Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid, What to Expect When You’re Expecting) reads to a rapt audience from his new book about Rory (Bradley Cooper, The Hangover Part II), a struggling young writer and his decision to publish a manuscript he discovers in an old portfolio case as his own. When he’s celebrated as an overnight success, an old man (Jeremy Irons, Margin Call) approaches him in private, reveals himself as the true author, and tells Rory how the novel came from his actual life experiences. Rory decides to tell his loving wife, Dora (Zoë Saldaña, Columbiana) the truth and has to face the consequences of his decision to plagiarize on both his personal and professional lies as he tries to do the right thing and set the record straight.
This is a quiet movie. It’s about ambition, creativity, ethics, identity, relationships, and regret. It’s a wide release romantic drama from an original script, which is pretty much like finding a unicorn these days. The only explosions are emotional outbursts, the only things being fired are invectives during the volley of heated conversations.
The actors were drawn to the thrill of playing real people making small decisions with large consequences. It’s a far cry from Bradley’s work in The A-Team or Saldaña’s in Star Trek, it’s about people trying to be complete and happy.
Well written, well photographed, and content to be not tie everything up in a neat little bow, I found The Words a wonderful opportunity to examine my personal feelings about the creative process and it’s place in regards to ambition and fulfillment as well as the power any well told story can hold. As Clay states when talking to a reporter, “One of the great things about being a writer is the ability to ask questions without having to know the answer.” If you’re interested in writing, writers, books, publishing, stories, or people, there’s no reason for this not to be an enjoyable trip to the theater.
My personal opinion: The Words asks a lot of its audience, but it asks very quietly. I really liked it a lot.