Friday, September 7, 2012
Movie Review: The Words
Let's talk for a minute about Bradley Cooper. I've been a fan for a long time, due in no small part to how much I wish I had his hair, (I mean seriously, what does he use?) and also because of his tragically short lived sitcom Kitchen Confidential.
In the year since -- rightly -- being named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive (again, the hair), Cooper has stepped away from the raunchy R-rated comedies and studio action thrillers that made him famous to instead dip his toe in obscure indie films. He recently played supporting act in the under-sung Hit and Run and later this year will star opposite Katniss Everdeen in The Silver Linings Playbook, a quiet indie dramedy about people on the other side of emotional breakdowns.
We'll have to wait to see what he pulls out in Playbook, but for now The Words is the best we've seen of Cooper to date. Starring opposite Zoe Saldana (a couple the gods would envy for their beauty), Cooper plays Ryan, the struggling writer trying to break out of the pack in a world full of struggling writers. Ryan gets his golden ticket, seemingly, when he discovers an old unpublished manuscript in an antique satchel and, deciding to publish it under his own name comes face to face (literally) with the emotional demons of stealing another person's life and passing it off as your own.
The movie is quite layered, with interconnected parallel plots of the man who actually wrote the book (played by two different actors with the superb Jeremy Irons filling the role as The Old Man) and the story of Dennis Quaid, a successful writer, narrating Ryan's story during one of his readings. That's right, Ryan is a fictional character of Quaid's creation...or is he? Words is also structured as a three-part book, with Quaid winkingly acknowledging the curtains between each Act to thunderous applause during segments of his book reading.
I won't attempt any more synopsis because it would get somewhat confusing but presented in video form the plot that jumps back and forth between time and place is effortless to follow and hypnotic in prose. Ryan's internal struggle is familiar to anyone who's ever had a dream and it's all too easy to see yourself in him during one powerful scene when he screams out "I'm not who I thought I was" and questions how anyone ends up where they are.
Words is a beautifully-written, beautifully-acted tale. If there is a weakness, it rests in the Quaid portions of the story through no fault of the actor's. The final scene between Cooper and Irons is the perfect ending, leaving so much said an unsaid, but the movie unfortunately continues a few minutes longer to allow Quaid and Olivia Wilde to both say and not say things, ruining the poignancy of the previous resolution while still leaving more to be desired.
The Words will likely fall short during awards season, but it makes for the perfect transition from the sugary pop of the summer blockbusters to the heft and artistry of the fall season. It also signals great things ahead for our ranking sexiest man. B+