Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) is reading from his book, The Words. This book is about Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) and the book he wrote, The Window Tears.
Rory and Dora (Zoe Saldana) are fresh out of college. Rory wants to be a writer. After countless rejections, and having to borrow money from his dad (J.K. Simmons) multiple times to cover bills, Rory wonders why his life isn’t what he envisioned. He has taken a “day job,” after having his focus be on writing for five years. He delivers mail at a publishing company. It pays the bills, but he’s not happy.
Rory and Dora go to Paris for their anniversary. While there, Rory purchases a leather portfolio from an antique shop. Back home, as he’s transferring his stuff from his old portfolio to the leather antique, he finds a manuscript. He reads it, and falls in love with the story.
To feel what it’s like to have those words go through him, he retypes the manuscript into his laptop. Dora reads it the next day and subconsciously pressures Rory to give it to one of the publishers at work.
Of course, the publisher loves it. The book gets published and becomes a huge hit. This is when Rory meets the old man (Jeremy Irons). During an exceptionally dark period after the war, the old man had written a book about his life. His wife had lost the pages he had written on a train. In a leather portfolio. He tells Rory the circumstances that lead up to writing the story, and about the story itself. This confrontation leads to Rory wanting to somehow atone for stealing the book.
I have to imagine this is an author’s movie. Meaning that it will be most easily related to by people who write books. The constant rejection, the struggling to make ends meet, the elation when your manuscript is finally published. With that said, I didn’t really relate to the story at all.
You start with Dennis Quaid narrating his story about Bradley Cooper’s story, which Jeremy Irons narrates. There are too many layers. It’s like Book-ception, to resurrect a much overused meme. I enjoy movies that make you think. That build layer upon layer. That you’re never really sure if you’re in reality or fiction. (See Inception, The Matrix, etc.) It seems they are trying too hard to put too much into one story. It has potential, it just gets too convoluted. They could have just made the old man’s story and made a nice period piece.
The acting is mediocre. I expect more from the cast. A large part could be due to the screenplay. And the switching of narrative voices between Dennis Quaid and Jeremy Irons was too jolting. If you’re going to have someone narrate the story, get Morgan Freeman. Aside from that, just let Jeremy Irons do the voice over. His is a more commanding voice.
Aside from some predictability, there are some things, i.e. Olivia Wilde’s character, that are just complete underdeveloped. It leaves too many questions, and you find yourself searching, fruitlessly, for some connection.
If you’re thinking you’ll get some sort of sweeping love story, or some sort of deep romance, or at the very least, Bradley Cooper flaunting his Bradley Cooper-ness, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The Words will leave you feeling as empty as the stories Rory wrote himself.