I am a sucker for literary films. With a cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Zoe Saldana, Ben Barnes, Dennis Quaid, and Olivia Wilde, I truly looked forward to seeing The Words.

I am a sucker for literary films. With a cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Zoe Saldana, Ben Barnes, Dennis Quaid, and Olivia Wilde, I truly looked forward to seeing The Words.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The film seemed like an experiment of “How meta can we get here?” that went wrong. It was a snooze fest of slow-paced narrations held together by a nice musical score and beautifully designed cinematography, the movie’s only saving grace.

The film opens with Clay Hammond (Quaid), a celebrated writer reading excerpts from his newest book, “The Words,” about a writer named Rory Jansen (Cooper). Rory’s struggle to cope with the constant rejection of being a writer starts playing out like another movie. On his honeymoon to Paris, he buys a weathered briefcase in an antiques shop, in which he later finds a manuscript that he ends up publishing as his own words.

As he rises to fame, a character known as “The Old Man” (Irons) approaches him and reveals that he was the original author of Rory’s book. The Old Man starts a story about a young writer (Barnes) and the love of his life facing a crushing heartbreak that seems to preface the stolen tale.

We’ve now got four writers, a tangled universe, and the possibility of Rory’s ruin. It is not surprising to question if any of Rory/The Old Man/The Young Man was ever true.

As viewers left the theater, it’s quite clear that I wasn’t alone in my disappointment. Discussion floated between the fact that the movie dragged like a snail and that the confusion can enjoyably lead to personal interpretation. This film, if nothing else, is a tease, and not one that ends in a satisfying payoff.

Rating: PG-13; Running Time: 97 minutes




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