The Words

Posted September 8, 2012 by in


Total Score

2/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Actors: Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons
Length: 96 minutes.
Release Date: 9/7/2012
Studio: Animus Films, Benaroya Pictures (presents), Serena Films, Also Known As Pictures (presents), Waterfall Media

What We Liked:

strong performance

What We Disliked:

lack of conflict and payoff
What We Thought

The Words is a dull story within an uneventful one. There’s no conflict, no drama–it’s merely events unfolding. The actors are in fine form, but they’re wasted in a bad screenplay.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article

Stephen King noted in his memoir On Writing that there are four kinds of writers:  bad ones, competent ones, good ones, and great ones.  Competent ones can become good, but that is the only craftsman level one can jump.  This doesn’t bode well for the freshmen screenwriters of The Words.

The Words is a story-within-a-story.  Or shall I say, a dull story within an uneventful one.  There’s almost nothing going on in the framing story.  Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) reads a selection from his novel The Words to an audience.  He meets with a young woman who joins him for a one night stand, who wants to hear the rest of what happens in his novel, the story of Rory Jansen.

Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) wants to make a living as a writer.  A literary agent tells him he’s good, but there’s no market for a writer nobody has ever of.  One day, his wife (Zoe Saldana) buys a satchel for him from an antique shop.  Rory discovers an unpublished novel inside.  It’s not just good, it’s a work of genius.

Rory types the aged manuscript on his laptop word-for-word.  His wife finds it and reads it over, thinking Rory wrote the story.  She pressures him into showing it to an agent.  The agent loves it, and wants to represent Rory.  The book is published and is a financial and critical success.  But the original writer, a WW2 veteran (Jeremy Irons), finds Rory, and then…nothing.

He doesn’t want to expose Rory, he doesn’t blackmail him.  He tells Rory about his life and how he lost the manuscript and then wanders off.

Rory feels bad about what he did, but there is no opposing force in The Words.  At most, the publishers aren’t cooperating with him in the first act, but there is no one is trying to stop Rory from doing anything.  The Words is a story, with a beginning, middle, and an end, but it isn’t drama–it’s just events unfolding.  There’s no climax, no payoff. The Words comes an abrupt end with nothing resolved, because there was no real problem to begin with.

If you find this intriguing, read no further.

There is an implication at the end that The Words is a confession, but it doesn’t offer closure because the movie ends before there’s any consequence.  The performances are strong all around, but they’re wasted in story conscious of how lame it is.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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