‘The Words’ complicates a simple story

By Malea Ritz

MCT

There was certainly more to “The Words” than initial advertising let on.

It wasn’t exactly the story of a struggling writer and his decision to plagiarize a book for fame. It was something more – uncomplicatedly so.

Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) is just an average guy, trying to make a name for himself in the writer’s world. He just barely gets by financially, on his nearly nonexistent salary. Although several literary agencies are impressed with his work, they decline his request to be published in print, stating that there is no market for his type of book.

While on his honeymoon in Paris with his new wife Dora (Zoe Saldana), he discovers an antique briefcase for sale, which Dora purchases for him as a gift. After stumbling upon a stack of papers inside the briefcase, Jansen is faced with a dilemma. Hungry for fame and fortune, Jansen decides to take the work as his own without any consideration for consequences. Jansen must later discover the value of ‘the words’ that he stole.

In comparison to Cooper’s first role as a writer in “Limitless” last year, his performance was discernibly lacking as Jansen. While his emotions and struggles were reminiscent to many that we as journalists have been faced with ourselves, there was definitely something missing. If the viewer was supposed to feel empathetic for his character, it was not coming off that way.

Cooper and Saldana made an odd pair that didn’t feel quite believable. Their argumentative scenes, which should have been palpable and passionate, seemed emotionless and fake. It was unfortunate that they looked so appealing as a couple in the trailer, but fell flat when it came to the film.

Through the use of a classical music soundtrack and various shadowed lighting shots, “The Words” seemed overly dramatic.

And with several stories in one, this film was like an “Inception” of its own kind. The story is simple: A struggling writer plagiarizes a story for fame and faces the consequences, but there were so many unnecessary levels of stories within that, which was just too much to handle as a viewer. Also featuring an unexpected omniscient voiceover narrator, “The Words” only continued to get weirder.

The outermost layer of the story, which is left open to interpretation at the end, features Dennis Quaid and Olivia Wilde, which seem to play useless characters that do not add anything additional to the plot. Their presence in the film only complicates the story to an unsalvageable level.

Wilde’s character is particularly worthless, as it seems her only purpose in the film is to literally ask the author of the story to continue telling the plot after the book reading is finished so that the audience can learn what happens. It was an unfortunate addition to the story.

This film had a lot of potential, but sadly left this viewer feeling extremely disappointed. Although there was not much that went right in this film, if anything, the movie did accurately portray the struggles of a writer on its multiple dimensions of stories.

If placed in Jansen’s situation, many writers would likely have done the same.

But the story may not end how you’d imagine.

This is one film that holds no moral, as there is no anti-plagiarism message.

To cheat or not to cheat? The choice is up to you.

Malea Ritz can be reached at [email protected]