It was a slow weekend at the theaters, and while “The Words” poor opening ($5 million) didn’t do much to boost the lackluster box office numbers, its value came in another form that can be found on Hollywood’s current endangered list: creativity.
That forbidden word- “creativity,” comes with too much of a financial risk to be a popular motto with movie executives these days, and, based on the film’s revenue, it appears the public is equally disinterested in films that are thought provoking, clever, and fresh.
Then there are the movie critics who have, in ironic fashion, slandered a film that focuses on a writer who wants nothing more than for his work to be recognized.
That writer is Rory Jansen, played by Bradley Cooper. Rory, a character brought to life in author Clayton Hammond’s (Dennis Quaid) novel, “The Words,” which is speculated by some of his fans to be an autobiographical representation of Clayton himself.
As Clayton reads “The Words” to an audience of fans, the film’s narrative is carried along with it, and we grow to know Rory, a novelists desperately seeking to find a publisher for his recently finished book.
But after repeated failures to do so, Rory’s sense of self, his bank account, and his relationships begin to wear thin.
As Rory’s desperation grows, he comes upon a briefcase in a souvenir shop in Paris, in which he finds a piece of unpublished writing so compelling it consumes his thoughts and symbolizes the talent he wishes was his own.
His infatuation peaked, Rory begins transcribing the literary piece on his laptop, word by word. When Rory’s wife, Dora (Zoe Saldana) finds the story on his computer, she presumes it to be an original piece written by Rory, and encourages him to show his boss, who is a book publisher.
Though troubled by the fact the work is not his own, Rory enjoys the flattery and credit given from his wife, and chooses to show the work to the publisher. In a short amount of time the work is published and becomes a best selling novel.
Unbeknownst to Rory, the true author is still alive, and aware his work has been stolen.
In comes The Old Man, played by Jeremy Irons, who tells Rory about his life experiences that ultimately led him to write the original draft.
Guilt-stricken, Rory eventually offers The Old Man a payoff and credit for the book, but at the end of his road, The Old Man denies, and Rory is forced to live with his guilt, his only outlet to continue writing.
The ties between Rory and Clayton insinuate the two men are one in the same, though the film’s ending leaves room for interpretation. Was this simply a work of fiction by Clayton, or did Clayton live what he wrote, using the name Rory as an alias?
Perhaps the biggest complaint regarding the film is its somewhat abrupt and inconclusive ending. People tend to want a definitive outcome when the theater lights come back on. How dare a film provoke thought? How dare it force filmgoers to make their own conclusions?
Striking was the fact that halfway through the ending credits, many viewers, myself included, remained seated in silence, doing just that. So where are all the negative reviews coming from? The acting is solid. The relationships and characters are genuine. The plot is unique. The script is multifaceted and complex, in a good way.
This film, in its entirety, speaks to anyone who has ever chased a dream and faced obstacles along the way.
Maybe there weren’t enough explosions or car chases in this one, or maybe it’s just that critics take their title too literally too often. This film is anything but the all-too-common shallow flicks polluting theaters these days.
Don’t mind the negative, long-winded reviews available everywhere you look. Try this one out.