Bradley Cooper Intrigues In 'Words'
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal make their directorial debut with The Words— a surprisingly thought-provoking romantic drama starring an impressive cast consisting of the usually teasing Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons, Ben Barnes, and the stunning Olivia Wilde. After the over-stimulating back to school ruckus at Boston College, the matinee showing of The Words was my ideal end of the week excursion off campus, and into the life of Clayton Hammond (Dennis Quaid). The seemingly confident and charming Clayton is the speaker at a book reading of his highly praised novel The Words, telling the story of Jansen’s (Bradley Cooper) struggle to deal with the consequences of one colossal mistake and how it affects not only him, but a broad spectrum of people around him. Clearly, Jansen did not anticipate any consequences when he forged a novel he found. As time continues, Jansen is no longer anonymous and the country falls in love with his false work. Jansen begins to recognize that his success is undeserved and suffers with the knowledge of his corrupt actions. Meanwhile, the true author, an old man (Jeremy Irons), finds Jansen and exposes his own identity as the true author—but out of pain rather than spite. The old man explains that he expects nothing from Jansen—no money, no fame, no recognition. The devastated old man tells Jansen his story of love, heartbreak, struggle, and absolute agony which inspired him to write the novel that Jansen now owns. To him, Jansen must know the true meaning behind the words he stole and his punishment is to “carry the burden” of the pains he claimed to write about.
Through Jansen’s own struggle with the grand amount of love, fame, and lies in his life, the viewers are exposed to an important lesson: you must never forget the past, but you can forgive it, and use those gaffes to create a future for yourself that you are proud of. As the film comes to a close, the viewer realizes that this is a lesson that Clayton himself has learned and is in the process of accepting. The viewer questions, “Is Jansen Clayton? Is he telling a true story, or did he really write the next American novel?” These are questions the film never answers, and one of many questions that leave you hanging as The Words concludes.
Storyline aside, the cast, specifically Cooper, surprise audience members with its ability to enthrall onlookers with its convincing and contemplative personalities and without the overwhelming flirtation or sensual references I expected from a Bradley Cooper film. Cooper was able to keep his shirt on, and instead captivated audiences by showing his character mature while handling his mistakes and the pain they caused. His chemistry with Zoe Saldana (Jansen’s wife, Dora) was undeniably intriguing. Most romantic dramas depict “the perfect couple” coming together, but The Words illustrates how “the perfect couple” can fall apart. Dora forgives Jansen, but will never forget their past, and therefore their marriage fails.
The Words will give you an uninterrupted 90-minute period to reflect on your life. But I must warn you, the contemplative mindset I was thrust into as the movie concluded remained with me throughout my Friday evening - so plan accordingly, and be aware.