Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Words - Movie Review

Hollywood loves to make movies about writers. Since watching someone write is only slightly more exciting than watching paint dry, it’s amazing how many films show people sitting at a desk, struggling to bring words to life.

The new Bradley Cooper film, The Words, deals not only with the struggles of writing, but moral dilemmas. If you had a hard time making it big in the literally world and you stumbled onto to an old manuscript that was brilliant, would you pass it off as your own? We all know that once an author has one wildly successful book, publishers will often release older works that never made it into print. So could this manuscript serve as a gateway and would the ends justify the means?

Cooper plays, Rory Jansen, a struggling young author trying to live in New York and be a literary genius to his new wife (Zoe Saldana). However, this is simply a story being read to an audience by an older established author, Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid). This is where The Words runs into some problems.

The trailer gives the impression that the film is about Bradley Copper’s character, and it is, but when you realize in the opening that Quaid is reading from his new fictional novel, something is immediately lost. Of course most fiction is derived from real life and questioning Quaid as to whether he’s telling a story, or writing a cathartic autobiography is pivotal to the film. Still, a lack of connection exists for the viewer.

We have two stories now and yet we will be told a third by Old Man (Jeremy Irons), the author of the lost manuscript. His story is told with heart and you feel the passion he has for love, family and art. The film is only 97 minutes though, so it’s a lot of people to cram into one cohesive story and you don’t get to be with anyone long enough to get too emotional attached.

I saw this movie with my daughter and it just didn’t work for her. Myself, being a constant struggling writer, I was able to feel the pain and betrayal these characters felt. It did all come together for me in the end and I could see how Quaid’s successful author was necessary to the storytelling. I thought the film portrayed the act of writing and writers better than most films and I really did like the story and the moral dilemmas it presented. If this is subject matter you enjoy, I think you will feel very satisfied with this film.

Of course my critical eye had some problems that I couldn’t let go of. How could Rory (Bradley Copper) and Dora(Zoe Saldana) afford to go to Paris for their honeymoon? Seriously, we keep hearing about how broke they are and how much they’re struggling and they go to Paris and they have money to buy stuff? Even my 19 year old daughter leaned over and said to me, “How could they afford to go to Paris?” Take a moment to say it was a wedding gift from the parents or something because that was just too unbelievable.

Secondly, even non-writers know that publishing houses are suffering. It is next too impossible for an unknown author to be traditionally published these days. What actual writers know is that all writers have day jobs to pay the bills. That’s one of the reasons writing is so hard! So, to think Rory would be writing full-time after college, live in New York City and think that’s going to work out for him, makes him unbelievable about the current state of writing these days. Heck, this guy doesn’t even have an agent! Wasn’t this type if thing discussed in his classes? All of his professors are writers AND they are teaching!

It sounds like I didn’t like this film, but I actual did. The acting was great and the emotions from all three main characters, Quaid, Copper and Irons felt very real. It had a great jumping off point and I wanted it to be better. I’m glad I saw it though and I would probably watch it again on DVD, I only wish I could have extracted a bit more from it.


Zack Mandell said...

After seeing the trailers for this movie I have been really excited to see it.

Anonymous said...

Who is the young girl at the end?

Colleen said...

Olivia Wilde is the student in the end scenes with Dennis Quaid. I hope that's the person you meant.

Anonymous said...

yes, but could she also be his daughter? Remember the flash back when he is about to kiss her? Isn't she more than just a student. Also at the train station, his first wife was holding a little girl.

Colleen said...

That's something I didn't think about. I might be forgetting here, but the train station, I thought, was in the old man's memory. Quaid's character was only recently divorced and his life didn't seem to have a previous love. Did I miss something?

Anonymous said...

I didn't make myself very clear. I believe that young women wasn't just stalking Quid. She knew to much about him, like she needed to get to know him. Iron's ex's daughter might be to old and Quid/Cooper's daughter might have been to young. There was something there! Rewatch the flash back and the way Quid ended the movie.
One more question: Who is the leading male actor in the movie. Also can you have a leading male actor and a different leading male character(most screen time)?