Post Created by Jk the secret keeper
Illustrated by j. kiley
Review by Roger Ebert & Jennifer Kiley
Post Created on 5th August 2013
Posted On 9th August 2013
There’s more than one way to take a life.
The Words (2012)
September 5, 2012
Almost every word Ernest Hemingway wrote in the years immediately before 1922 was lost by his first wife Hadley, who packed the pages in a briefcase and lost it on a train. Hardly an American lit student lives who has not heard this story.
Hemingway’s lost prose lives on, in a sense, in the movie “The Words,” which opens with a writer named Clayton Hammond (Dennis Quaid) reading from his new novel in a Manhattan bookstore. But hold on. Don’t get ahead of the story. I know you’re thinking Hammond’s book is actually the long-lost Hemingway manuscript. But the movie adds another level. His book is about another novelist who finds the lost briefcase in a Paris antique shop.
Most of “The Words” is about that novelist. His name is Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper), and he has a wife named Dora (Zoe Saldana). Dora is a famous name among novelist’s wives, but never mind. Her purpose here is to shoehorn a beautiful woman into the movie, which includes two others: Celia (Nora Arnezeder), a Parisian mistress, who is the one who leaves the briefcase on the train, and Danielle (Olivia Wilde), a graduate student who falls for Clayton Hammond at his reading.
The original novelist at the beginning of this series of events is known only as The Old Man (Jeremy Irons), and he is seen only when already Old. If you’re thinking of The Old Man and the Sea, don’t blame me. After Rory Jansen finds the novel and publishes it as his own, he finds himself in the park one day, having a conversation with The Old Man, who tells him the story of how he came to write the novel and lose it.
I doubt if either one of us could pass a quiz on that plot. It’s a level too many and sidesteps a more promising approach: What if the movie were about the real Ernest Hemingway discovering that his lost manuscript had been found and published by a stranger? That would eliminate the need for the Dennis Quaid and Olivia Wilde characters, provide an opening for some juicy Hemingway dialogue, and create an excuse for a passionate affair between Hemingway and the succulent Dora. Of course you’d need some time compression, because the various events in the movie seem to span perhaps 90 years.
“The Words,” written and directed by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, may sound like a movie about literature, but it isn’t. It ingeniously avoids quoting more than a few words from the Hemingwayesque novel, and although Clayton Hammond reads more from his novel, there’s no suggestion that we’re dealing with the Son of Hemingway, or even the Cousin Of. The movie does however slyly leave open the possibility that his novel is the story of his own life.
What does work are the performances, especially Jeremy Irons as The Old Man. He’s not as angry about Jansen’s plagiarism, as you might assume, and indeed the real Hemingway considered his lost manuscripts “juvenile work.” (In life, Hadley did save a few carbons, one of which was the short story “Up in Michigan,” which is a work of genius. We can only wonder what was lost.)
Watching the movie, I enjoyed the settings, the periods and the acting. I can’t go so far as to say I cared about the story, particularly after it became clear that its structure was too clever by half. There’s also an appearance by J.K. Simmons as Jansen’s father, not a very necessary character, but it’s funny how often you see Simmons playing someone in a movie and
wish the whole movie was about him.
REVIEW WRITTEN BY JENNIFER KILEY
SATURDAY 4th AUGUST 2013
A GREAT REVIEW BY ROGER EBERT AND FACTS I DIDN’T CONSIDER WHILE WATCHING THE FILM MYSELF. I AM AN AVID HEMINGWAY FAN BUT WAS UNAWARE OF THE LOST MANUSCRIPT. KNOWING THAT NOW DOES ADD DIMENSION TO THE VIEWING OF ‘THE WORDS.’ I AGREE WITH ROGER EBERT THAT THE CHARACTERS DENNIS QUAID AND OLIVIA WILDE ARE PRETTY UNNECESSARY TO THE TELLING OF THE STORY. THEIR ONLY VALUE SEEMS TO BE SETTING UP THE PREMISE OF ONE WRITER WRITING ABOUT ANOTHER WRITER FINDING THE MISSING MANUSCRIPT.
ONE IS NOT SURE WHILE WATCHING ‘THE WORD’ WHAT IS THE REALITY AND WHAT IS THE FICTION. ARE ANY OF THE CHARACTERS IN THE FILM REAL. MAYBE DENNIS QUAID IS THE ONLY REAL CHARACTER TELLING THE REST OF THE STORY IN HIS BOOK. AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF THE FILM YOU SEE A PROMINENTLY VIEWED BOOK WITH THE TITLE ‘THE WORDS.’ IT DOES SET OFF THE FILM ON A JOURNEY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT IS HAPPENING.I FELT THE BACK STORY OF THE CHARACTERS FROM THE FAR LONG AGO PAST IS RATHER BORING. THAT COULD BE PULLED TOGETHER AND REFERRED IN A MORE MINIMAL WAY.
THE MOST INTERESTING PARTS OF THE FILM EVOLVE AROUND THE BRADLEY COOPER CHARACTER. I FOUND MYSELF MUCH MORE INTERESTED IN WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO HIS LIFE, HIS DECISIONS, HIS RELATIONSHIPS AND HIS DIALOGUE, ESPECIALLY WITH THE OLD MAN PLAYED BY JEREMY IRONS. IRONS WAS BRILLIANT. COMPARING THIS ALL TO HEMINGWAY’S MISSING MANUSCRIPT & THE OLD MAN BEING A CUTE REFERENCE TO HEMINGWAY’S BOOK ‘THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA’ WOULD HAVE BEEN AN INTERESTING INCLUSION IN THE FILM IF THE DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER HAD BEEN ASTUTE ENOUGH TO USE THAT IN THEIR PREMISE. IT WOULD HAVE DEFINITELY IMPROVED THE OVERALL INTRIGUE.
I REALLY FOUND THIS FILM ABSORBING AND HAVE WATCHED SEVERAL TIMES. READING ROGER EBERT’S REVIEW, AS I STATED, MAKES THE FILM EVEN MORE INTRIGUING. TOO BAD ROGER DIDN’T HAVE INPUT WITH THE SCREENWRITER. MAYBE THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE MORE RESEARCH AND INCLUDED THE REFERENCE TO HEMINGWAY OR MAYBE THEY KNEW AND DIDN’T GET THAT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT TO INCLUDE IN THE STORYLINE.
I, FOR ONE, WOULD HAVE FOUND THAT FASCINATING IF THE LOST MANUSCRIPT HAD ACTUALLY BEEN ERNEST HEMINGWAY’S,THE ONE HIS WIFE CARELESSLY LOST ON HIM. HOW FRUSTRATING IS THAT AND HOW IMPORTANT THAT WOULD HAVE PUMPED UP THE WHOLE DEPTH OF THE STORY. THE WHOLE FILM WOULD HAVE TAKEN ON A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AURA.
JUST THE SAME, THE FILM IS WORTHY OF BEING SEEN IN JUST THE WAY IT IS PORTRAYED. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. WRITERS, IN PARTICULAR, WILL ENJOY THE DEBATE IN THEIR OWN MIND, HOW ETHICAL OVERALL WAS THE DECISION BRADLEY COOPER’S CHARACTER MADE. SEE THE FILM ‘THE WORDS’ AND ENJOY AN INTRIGUING CONCEPT FOR A STORY. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED. I ENJOYED EVERY TIME I VIEWED ‘THE WORDS.’ Written by Jennifer Kiley
Cast: ‘The Words’
Bradley Cooper as Rory
Dennis Quaid as Clayton
Zoe Saldana as Dora
Olivia Wilde as Danielle
Jeremy Irons as Old Man
Written and directed by
Drama, Thriller, 96 minutes
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and smoking
The Words – Official Trailer (2012) [HD] Bradley Cooper
The Words Trailer 2 Official 2012 [HD 1080] – Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana