All ‘Words,’ no show

By Brian Duskey

September 9, 2012

“The Words,” starring Bradley Cooper, contains good cinematography, but  fails to excite as the movie drags on with too much dialogue.

A cynic would say, “If it looks good, sounds good, it generally isn’t.” In the case of CBS films’ “The Words,” the cynic would be right.

All of the cast portrays the characters well and rather believable, the overall plot is intriguing and the cinematography is top-notch.

But where the filmmakers of ”The Words” miss out is through the development of the pacing and their respect for the audience.

The film follows Rory Jansen, played well by Bradley Cooper, who is a writer that has a love for the art but has never been able to make it like he once dreamed. By totally random happenstance, he stumbles upon a briefcase in Paris, France, that contains a manuscript for a novel that was never published. Jansen’s desperation with his career causes him to take the manuscript and publishes it as his own work.

Writing ethics 101: Don’t steal other writers’ works.

Jeremy Irons plays the original writer of the manuscript and calls Jansen out on his plagiarizing.

Both Cooper and Iron play their roles pretty convincingly. What we expect to get out of them we get.

Irons wrote the novel, which is a steamy romance, during his World War II days when he fell in love with a woman that he met overseas – but he claims that he lost the manuscript shortly after their affair ended in Paris.

The issue is that the conflict never reaches the potential that is truly has. The first 40 minutes of the film are pretty entertaining, and the audience is really taken in by the story because it is a pretty intriguing one.

The issue is with the script. Here we have a good concept, but a bad script. The perfect example of this is a scene about halfway through the film where Cooper and Irons’ characters meet to talk about the manuscript that was published.

A scene like this should really be the highlight of the film, in a good way. We should hear some sharp dialogue and it should be very intense. The issue is that the scene dragged for a long time. Irons’ character went on and on about his background and how he wrote that manuscript.

His story was something that could of been told in five to seven minutes, but was wasted with a 20-minute spiel.

I understand that the filmmakers want the audience to draw a romantic feel from his backstory, but that would be a whole other film in itself. Trying to combine it with this one just made the story drag.

The writers and directors of the film had an opportunity to really up the stakes in this scene and push towards some “edge-of-your-seat” nervousness between the characters, but they failed to even recognize it.

The film was written and directed by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. One of the great advantages of the writers also directing the film is that you can absorb that passion and love that they have for the story.

This does not happen.

The only feeling that was received was that they were too in love with their own “words” to make a more entertaining film. A lot of dialogue should have been cut and they should of focused on showing the audience the story, rather than telling it.

Another issue the filmmakers run into is pointless characters. Jansen’s wife, played by Zoe Saldana, and his father, played by J.K. Simmons, are interesting and entertaining but don’t really serve a purpose in the film. Saldana is mostly just there for the “supporting wife” character, while Simmons is the typical father who is helping his son survive in the cut-throat real world.

Despite some gorgeous cinematography, the experience of “The Words” just felt like some old man explaining a hashed out story to me over 90 minutes.

Save your money. Don’t go see this film.