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In a very tangential sense, this tale has similar pretensions to Inception. Its a tale within a tale within a tale. Confused? Let me clarify. The Words opens with author Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) speaking at his book launch, reading a couple of chapters to the invited guests. He starts to tell his story about a writer (Bradley Cooper) who has an just written an acclaimed novel and his fledgling encounter with an old man who has a secret that will shatter his world once he learns of his very close association with the book. The film then shifts to Rory's world, were we learn about his beginnings, the effect of his crippling self doubt that plagues him, inhibiting any fundamental progress in attaining acclaim in the literary field. Then, after committing to marriage to his devoted girlfriend Dora (A decorative Zoe Saldana), they take a honeymoon in Paris. While in an antique shop, she spots a battered old leather writers briefcase. Bingo, perfect present for my budding writer husband to be! Back home, a few weeks later Rory picks up the case and finds something extraordinary. A manuscript of a novel, that had been left in there - by mistake? We don't know at this stage. Intrigued, Rory starts reading it. Soon, he is absolutely memerised by its contents. He knows that this story is more than good, its potential is just waiting to be untapped. Herein comes the eternal dilemma, what to do next? You know its not your words, but its too good to ignore. So, rather foolishly he decides to re-type the whole thing out - word for word - not changing a single comma, letter or word. Nothing changes, apart from the realisation of what he's just done. Rory then leaves it to one side, whilst wrestling with its potent implications and where to next. Soon, Dora picks it up and starts reading it, unaware of just what has happened. Not only does she love this new story, she urges him to take it further.
Flash forward to basking in the glow of success from this plagiarized novel, Rory is now being feted by the literary set, eager to rub shoulders with the new boy wonder, when he encounters a grizzled old man (Jeremy Irons) in Central Park who deliberately starts to reveal his true identity. And, this is where the fun begins. With the next chapter, we get the old man's story (Via flash backs) - or rather the life experiences that affected him directly. Thus laying the foundation stone for the significant events in this movie.
Considering all the various aspects mentioned so far, The Words had potential to be something very compelling, but its yet another project that isn't quite the sum of its parts. Bradley Cooper is alright in his role, but needs to do a George Clooney - and veer off into indie type movies. This would then build up a more credible resume that will make him far more versatile - rather than going for the easy road of indulging in yet another pretty boy role. Jeremy Irons is just there for the paycheck, he's done much better. Dennis Quaid just seems out of place in his role, maybe because we are unfamiliar with him playing this type of character? Zoe Saldana is fairly easy on the eye, but again, like the others, has done much better work.
All in all, The Words is a credible enough debut from first time writer/directors Brian Klugman & Lee Sternthal (Childhood friends of Mr Cooper incidentally), but it just doesn't have enough of an x-factor to recommend it completely.
Still, there are worse ways to spend your time...
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