Saturday, February 15, 2014

***In The Beginning Were The Words…Dennis Quiad’s The Words –A Film Review



From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

The Words, starring Dennis Quiad, Jeremy Irons, Bradley Cooper, 2012

Anybody, any amateur, who has seriously tried to put three coherent paragraphs together knows that writing is a tough, tough experience. Doubly, maybe more so, for anyone with any pretensions to write professionally for some audience that he or she has in his or her head to make that big breakthrough and earn enough money to get out of some rustic garret, to be able to look the landlord in the eye and to eat something more original than day-old bread. That little struggle for success in today’s ravishingly competitive dwindling book market (old style) is one of the little points made in this entertaining and engaging film under review appropriately named, ah, The Words.    

The plotline of the film unfolds under the old standby-telling a story within a story within a story and with the limitations of that trope the film works, works well, as a study about the frustrations and temptations of the modern writer. A well-known novelist (Dennis Quiad) who is in something of a mid-career slump gives a public presentation of his latest successful novel. The plot of that novel is that a certain young New York writer, Rory (played by Bradley Cooper,  and yes, much of writing is autobiographical) was working, and waiting, for his big break out. Working and waiting with his beautiful wife whom he took on a honeymoon to Paris where she found a writer’s briefcase that she purchased thinking it might be a good omen. Sometime later after they got home to New York and Rory was in deep writer’s funk he found in that Parisian briefcase a tattered and torn anonymous manuscript which had all the ingredients of a major new novel. After about a minute of reflection he decided to copy the manuscript and claim it as his own work. After cajoling publishers the thing was finally published and was a smash critical and popular hit. He then had that fame and fortune that he had craved for so long.             

Well almost, see the story-line that he, ah, stole, was the effort of a budding American soldier-writer (Jeremy Irons) in World War II who got the writing craze as will happen and also a craze for a French girl he met while doing garrison duty. Their ill-fated love affair (including the then French wife leaving the manuscript behind in that briefcase that Rory’s wife had subsequently purchased) was the central theme of that novel. Well, Jeremy although no longer writing had a strong interest in letting Rory know he knew that it was not his work. That tension, between whether Rory should admit the plagiarism or just continue to draw revenue and probably generous advances on future books, was what drove the latter portion of the film. Yeah, and you say the writing game is not such a tough racket. Huh!         

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