The Words Blu-ray Review
You need a road map to follow all the plot lines of THE WORDS. This is what you would call a movie that is too clever for its own good. It could have told an involving tale about writer’s block or plagiarism or even lost love if it finally chose to focus on one thing. Instead it is a tangled mess that will try anyone’s patience and sanity.
The film starts with accomplished author Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) reading passages from his latest novel, The Words. His narration is dry and to the point. The focus thereby shifts to the couple in the book. They are Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) and his wife Dora (Zoe Saldana). Rory is a struggling writer in New York, while his wife is simply window dressing. This theme gets repeated, so be prepared. Rory has been to every publisher in town and he is used to rejections. A few years pass and he finally gets one publisher to give him a meeting. He thinks this may be his big break. The publisher tells him he is a good writer, but he can’t sell his novel. It is too internal and opaque. Understandably, this is a blow to Rory and his ego.
On Rory and Dora’s honeymoon in Paris, they spot an old broken in satchel. Dora buys it for Rory thinking this will be good to put all his papers in. Little did either of them know that this purchase would change their lives forever. Rory would discover a novel stuck inside his satchel that apparently was written years ago. Rory can’t put down this piece of work because it is so well written and involving. Rory knows that he will never approach this level of excellence in his work. Rory decides to do the unthinkable and pass off this work as his own.
The novel is a huge success. It flies off the book shelves and wins numerous awards for Rory. He now has the respect of everyone around him and he is basking in it. But his life is about to take another turn. An old man (Jeremy Irons) cozies up to him on a bench and starts a conversation. He eventually gets to telling Rory that this was his story that he stole and the story itself was autobiographical. At this point we are in the story within the story. The old man (apparently he does not have a name worth noting) starts on his story that is contained in Rory’s best seller. It concerns his time in Paris during the war where he meets a fetching waitress. I do give the filmmakers major kudos for all the beautiful women populating this film. The young man (Ben Barnes) marries the attractive blond named Celia (Nora Arnezeder) and they settle into marital bliss. He gets a writing job and they have a baby girl. Since this is a movie, things certainly can’t end well or else there wouldn’t be a gripping novel or a movie for that matter. The baby girl dies tragically and the couple never fully recovers. Celia goes to her mother’s to clear her head and the young man throws himself into writing a therapeutic novel about his life. He sends his novel to his wife, so she can read it. She is moved by his words, but she accidentally leaves his satchel with the novel on the train. The mistake drives a wedge between the couple that cannot be healed and they break up. The lost piece of work doesn’t show up until years later in book stores around the country in Rory’s work. A similar thing happened with Ernest Hemingway and his first wife. She left some of his writings on a train. This fact is reinforced when they show Rory and Dora look at a Hemingway plaque in Paris.
Meanwhile Clay has a young admirer in the crowd in Daniella (Olivia Wilde). They get to talking and she is fascinated by the story and how it relates to Clay. So let’s go over where we stand now. We have Clay reading his latest novel to a captive crowd which includes an up and coming writer named Daniella. And then you have Rory and Dora in the novel going through their ups and down. Wait. There’s more. A significant amount of time is spent on Celia and the young man’s love story and eventual dissolution of their marriage. It is just too much material that directors/screenwriters Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal try to cram in. The various writers in this story are consumed with the written word that their wives get neglected. I gather that is one theme that is being broached. Another theme that gets discussed is what is better, life or fiction. This is where the viewer is clued in on that Clay may actually be Rory and he is trying to make things right with this story. I found that I just didn’t care at the end. There were too many stories being told that all of them got the short end of the stick. I don’t mind being challenged by movies. I loved films like INCEPTION, LOOPER and MUHOLLAND DR.. All of these films were challenging in the ways they shifted to different times, dimensions or consciousness. But they all were able to bring these competing forces together in a meaningful way. The Words never adequately did this. It was like a jigsaw puzzle that had too many pieces with jagged edges that don’t quite fit.
THE WORDS does have an intriguing premise, but interestingly enough it was a let down by its screenplay. A more concise use of the words would have done wonders.
Video: It is a nice movie to look at. The colors are rich and distinguish the various points of time depicted on screen.
Sound: The sound is robust. You hear clearly the distinct sound of rain drops or the pounding on a keyboard.
Unrated Extended Cut: It is 5 minutes and 29 seconds longer than the theatrical cut. There is more foul language that is used. Some of the scenes are extended or use different angles. The camera at times lingers longer on the actors to convey the emotion of the scene. The ending in the extended cut seemed more ambiguous and open to interpretation. The ending in the theatrical cut explained things more fully and was more hopeful.
Unabridged: A Look Behind the Scenes of The Words (8:30): The actors and filmmakers discuss the film and what drew them to it. The directors talk about their inspiration and how long it took to get the project off the ground.
A Gentleman’s Agreement (1:44): The directors and Bradley Cooper discuss their friendship and how long they’ve known each other. Other actors talk about the camaraderie on the set. This could have easily been put in the first extra feature.
Clay and Daniella (1:12): Quaid and Wilde have a discussion about their characters. Not long enough to go much in depth.
The Young Man and Celia (1:09): Same as the Clay and Daniella feature.