The Words

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THE WORDS—-more finagling of propriety v. prosperity in a 2012 romantic-mystery-drama that chews off more plot than it can digest but remains watchable thanks to the cast and an attractive production design. Directed by Brian Klugman, who co-scripted with Lee Sternthal, it turns somersaults in terms of coincidence and likelihood, as writer Dennis Quaid reads excerpts from his book about a down-on-his-luck budding author (Bradley Cooper) who discovers a lost manuscript and passes it off as his own, hitting the Big Time with his fraud. Then, the actual scribe turns up (Jeremy Irons).  The women in the lives of Quaid and Cooper (Olivia Wilde and Zoe Saldana) figure in, as do the original fictional couple it was all about (Ben Barnes and Nora Arnezeder)—in flashback. Got all that?

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Reviews were not kind: writers writing about the writing of a story about a writer writing about writing: not the best of set-ups for sympathy.  Spawned off the famous “lost Hemingway manuscript”, it runs 96 earnest minutes, cost $6,000,000, earned $13,200,000.  Further tweaking the already serpentine experience is the tidbit that three years earlier the same basic pitch was used in a German film, Lila, Lila.  What the...?    The actors keep you interested.  With J. K. Simmons and John Hannah.

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