The Words thinks it can outsmart us, however, providing one of those "what if" endings that raises such questions. Without some idea of the possible answer, however, all we get is frustration.
It’s hard enough for a movie to successfully juggle one narrative, let alone many. Yet The Words, the latest from CBS Films, wants to posit it’s romantic dramatic within three individual storylines, each one supposedly providing insight into the human condition and the characters playing out these particular desperate lives. One plot has a high profile author (Dennis Quaid) reading from his latest bestseller, and catching the eye of an inquisitive admirer (Olivia Wilde). The other two are within the premise, tales revolving around the book’s protagonist, a wannabe writer (Bradley Cooper) who wants more than anything to be famous. After his honeymoon in Paris, he discovers an old manuscript in an ancient valise, and without blinking, republishes it as his own. Naturally, the original scribe (Jeremy Irons) comes calling, requiring he know the whole story before claiming the copy as his own.
Sounds simple enough, right? After all, Quaid reads something, explains it a bit more to Wilde, and then we get Cooper and his wife (Zoe Saldana) struggling while he tries to make good. Once Irons arrives, he offers up the “inspiration” for the faded typed pages - an ex-GI living in France after the War, wooing and then marrying a the girl of his dreams, and the tragedy that surrounds the birth of their child. Yet for some reason, the constant shifts in perspective, the flashbacking and flash-forwarding, cause confusion, and then concern. Initially, we assume Quaid is telling us something “true,” that is, a slice of life that either influenced him, or actually occurred to him. But then things get cloudy, especially once Irons walks in. Granted, he’s nothing more than a catalyst, a cog to move the story machine from one end to another, but as Quaid says in the end, “Maybe he’s just made up. Maybe he’s just fiction, like the book.”