Wednesday, 30 January 2013

No.67 : The Words

The Words at IMDb

“What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.”  By Me

‘The Words’ is a film that maybe passed you by, even with its stellar cast, but it’s well worth looking up despite its potentially dry subject matter.

Famous author Dennis Quaid is giving a rapt audience a taste of his new book ‘The Words’. As he narrates the film dissolves to a film of his book which stars Bradley Cooper as an award winning author. His book ‘The Window Tears’ is a commercial and critical success, so much so he‘s being lauded by David St. Hubbins at an awards bash. We then go into flashback mode and witness his struggles as he shops his manuscript about with no luck, having to beg the rent from his dad, J. Jonah Jamieson.

After one disappointment too many he gets a job at a publishing house and is able to marry his long-suffering girlfriend, Dora. They honeymoon in Paris and she buys him a battered briefcase in a junk shop so he can cart his book around in comfort.

On his return home Bradley has a root  through his old case and finds a yellowed manuscript which he consumes in one sitting. As you’d expect it’s the best book in the world. Bradley decides to type it all out on his P.C. - not to steal it but so he can feel what it’s like to write a great book. Aye, right! In no time flat his new wife finds it and, flattered by her praise, agrees that yes, it totally is mine and I’m great aren’t I?

His publishing bosses grab the book and soon we’re back where the cut away began, with his accepting awards and praise from John Hannah, no less.

We go back to Dennis who is chatting up a fan and slowly manoeuvring her back to his apartment. He does however have to deliver the second part of his reading and things are deteriorating for Bradley. An aged Jeremy Irons shows up and after a brief pre-amble he convinces Bradley that he was the author of the book and recounts its creation in another flashback.

He’s not after money or even recognition, but Bradley starts to worry and tries to fix things as best he can. Alas this serves only to make him mildly drunk and annoying to his wife. With Dennis back at his apartment with the girl he gives her an exclusive preview of the last few chapters of his novel, which may not be all it originally appeared.

This was a really enjoyable and thought provoking film. It was well crafted with the various narratives and flashbacks within them always being clear and intriguing. The framing of the author’s reading was a clever way to split things up and add narration, and it all came together for a satisfying, although not wholly unexpected, ending.

I’m not convinced of Bradley Cooper’s leading man status and he seemed out his depth, especially in the scenes with a powerhouse like Irons. He is likeable enough but never convinced as the morally ambiguous and troubled author. With stuff like ‘The A*Team’ and ‘The Hangover’ behind him he’s obviously looking for some acting credibility but fails to deliver here.

Irons was great giving a master class in the wise old man role and he really sold the notion that ‘the words’ have to be earned through pain and suffering and cannot just be stolen. Quaid was also good value as he slightly seedy author  and it was a shame we didn’t get more of Michael McKean or John Hannah who both had mere cameos.

All in all this was a fine tale of morals and life experience which was both fresh and original - unlike Bradley’s moth eaten novel!

THE Tag Line : Word Up - It’s a Winner - 81%

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