The Words – Film Review
REVIEWED BY RESIDENT CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR
This is one I really wanted to see, and that I really wanted to be crunchingly good to the last mouthful. The usual weekday morning scatter of older folk, better dressed because this was, after all, Manuka. There were no choc tops.
The previews were about as much help as usual i.e. quite a lot. The Intouchables – rich but paralysed French bloke has his life turned around by a tough black carer and some of what one could call “the action” in The Words did, in fact, occur in France. Safety Not Guaranteed, an amusing-looking thing which seems to combine time travel and learning to be a writer. The Words had a bit of a time-ago thing and a disturbingly large amount of stuff about the Craft of Writing*.
Bradley Cooper plays Rory Jansen, a struggling young writer who is still parasiting off his old man for the rent while he tries manfully to produce the Great American Novel or somesuch in between hanging around New York like a ‘writer’. He describes himself at one inconsequential point as an angry young man which is sort of funny because anger would require a bit more acting. For heaven’s sake, his unbelievably tolerant girlfriend loves him because he is so serious all the time which probably says a fair bit about her and even more about Mr Cooper’s** dramatic stretch. He does, however, have intense eyes.
Without giving away more of the plot than the preview did, young Rory finds a beautifully crafted manuscript (so much better than his Great Work) in an old satchel and undertakes the heartbreaking task of putting it through the keyboard onto a screen. He becomes a literary superstar and is accosted by an angry*** old Jeremy Irons who claims to have written the thing. Uh-oh, Rory! Dennis Quaid ties it together nicely as a literary lion who has written about the thing****.
This could have had some cute tricks in it – but it didn’t. And that made it a little better than it was. Or it could have used its space and the minds of its audience to ask some really gristly questions about artistic ownership/borrowing/reflection/parody/tribute and maybe the possibility that we all steal from others every time we use a cliche or, indeed, use a word or a gesture we have learnt from another.
If it had jumped into the deeper water, it might have been a better movie.
*-the capitalisation is deliberate, sort of like the pace of the movie.
** – Breadley Cooper… Gary Cooper (famous for saying things like “yup, ma’am” with all the expression of something from Bunnings). Coincidence?
***– yes, he can do “angry”, and resignation and pathos and, pretty well, whatever is needed.
****– OMG! Quade/Quaid and Cooper. Cue the X-Files music and the weird green lights.