Zoe Saldana and Bradley Cooper in ‘The Words.’ Rated PG-13, 96 min. CBS Films, 2012.
The sedate drama “The Words” bravely intends to be an intellectual examination of morality and the power of a lie. A brainy drama can be engaging – thrilling even – if done correctly, but the dry script, round-about plot and one-note acting all turn this project into one deadly dull affair.
Struggling writer Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) happens upon an old manuscript that he passes off as his own, garnering instant fame, fortune and new respect from his wife (Zoe Saldana). But then Rory is confronted by an old man (Jeremy Irons) who says he wrote the story after WWII, and offers much anecdotal proof. What follows is some of the most grave-looking over-emoting that Cooper has ever done. Irons brings some fire, but smartly keeps himself in check.
The unnecessarily tricky structure collapses on itself. Dennis Quaid’s character is a writer who narrates the story of how Cooper’s character found the book and later met Irons’ character, who then narrates his own back story about how he came to write the novel in the first place. There are too many levels of storytelling within storytelling, but the worst part is that none of the stories come to mean anything substantial.