Sundance Journal: ‘The Words’

‘The Words’ is on track to becoming a highly-popular film that will be loved and appreciated by both the indie and mainstream crowds. The story is great, the filmmaking is solid and the performances are top notch. With a little editing and perhaps a short reshoot to extend one scene, I could see ‘The Words’ being next year’s Oscar bait.

Fellow critic Jimmy Martin of Big Movie Mouth-Off said it best when he described ‘The Words’ as being “Inception with books.” The film opens with Dennis Quaid doing a public reading of excerpts from his new novel. As he reads, we dive into the lives of its characters. Within that book, Bradley Cooper plays a young writer whose own first published book is being hailed as a masterpiece. He and his wife (Zoe Saldana) are at the top of the world. But an old man (Jeremy Irons) with a mysterious past is about to the throw a wrench in the gears.

As the old man’s back story comes into play, we dive into that story – making a story within a story within a story. Don’t worry, no one ends up in limbo, but you will be expected to create your own meaning for what you’ve seen.

A nice aspect of ‘The Words’ is that it’s completely intimate. You connect with each of the characters. The stories they tell and the world they live in are interesting and engulfing. This is achieved through a well-written screenplay, strong performances, great direction and a fantastic score.

My only complaint is about the movie’s ending. Obviously trying to give it an indie ending, too many variables are left unresolved. There are too many gaps that you’re expected to fill and too many different ways you can fill them. If the film had an addition two minutes of dialogue between Olivia Wilde’s also-mysterious character and Dennis Quaid’s, shedding just a tad more light on the story would make it a perfect five-star film. Without that, I fear that ‘The Words’ will only see the indie light of day with a limited platform release. With two addition minutes, I could see it opening on 2,500 screens nationwide.

Rating: ★★★★½

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