This movie is one of those rare instances where I was going mostly because the trailer interested me and not for any of the talent in particular. As with Ruby Sparks (2012), I was interested in seeing this film because it’s about a writer.
The story is one of those stories within a story, though this one is more like a story within a story within that story. It works in some places and it doesn’t in others. I found the beginning to be pretty slow, and it isn’t until we get to the third story that I found myself becoming a little more interested.
Most of the messages seemed pretty straightforward, albeit a little cliché at times. The most obvious of those being “don’t steal another person’s work and try to pass it off as your own,” especially if you can’t handle the guilt/consequences that are sure to follow. I did find it realistic that Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper’s character) didn’t seem to be stricken by a whole lot of remorse until he gets “caught” by The Old Man (Jeremy Irons’ character), though it makes it difficult to sympathize with Rory, especially when The Old Man begins telling the story behind how he was inspired to write the manuscript that Rory took. The story seems to pick up a little once the third “story within a story” gets started, and I think I enjoyed it the most out of the three layers, despite the cheesiness of the material.
Olivia Wilde’s character seemed a little random and underdeveloped, though I suppose she was at least a little necessary in order for the story to be told. As for the ending, I suppose one could call it a little bit of irony with a dash of poetic justice.
FINAL VERDICT: C-
Between this movie and Ruby Sparks, I much preferred the latter. The Words, aside from its subtle moral-teaching lessons, was in a way mostly a long-winded story about one man’s regret over an action he took from a lapse in judgment that he’s still haunted/tortured by even years later.