Monday, September 10, 2012
"The Words" leaves you at a loss for words. There's nothing about it that's highly objectionable, but nothing about it that's particularly noteworthy. The script's structure has generated a fair amount of negative comment, but it's actually really simple: A celebrated author (Dennis Quaid) gives a reading from his new book, about a writer (Bradley Cooper) who finds a long-lost, anonymous manuscript that's several orders of magnitude better than his work. He palms it off as his own and becomes the darling of the literary world, only to be tracked down by an old man (Jeremy Irons in slab-thick makeup) who knows the real story. Zoe Saldana plays Cooper's wife, an offensively underwritten part; we know nothing about this woman except by relation to him and in reaction to him. (The same is true of the woman in the manuscript's love story.) None of the performances are especially fine or poor; the whole thing just sort of exists. Sometimes, when filmmakers think they have a prestige picture and don't (as is the case here), the effect can be vaguely embarrassing, but "The Words" is so pretty to look at you almost don't mind that it's as generic and insubstantial as its title.