The Words


The Words

Critics Consensus

Neither as clever nor as interesting as it appears to think it is, The Words maroons its talented stars in an overly complex, dramatically inert literary thriller that's ultimately a poor substitute for a good book.



Reviews Counted: 123

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 48,542


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.3/5

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Movie Info

Starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde and Zoë Saldana, the layered romantic drama The Words follows young writer Rory Jansen who finally achieves long sought after literary success after publishing the next great American novel. There's only one catch - he didn't write it. As the past comes back to haunt him and his literary star continues to rise, Jansen is forced to confront the steep price that must be paid for stealing another man's work, and for placing ambition and success above life's most fundamental three words. -- (C) CBS Films

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Bradley Cooper
as Rory Jansen
Jeremy Irons
as The Old Man
Dennis Quaid
as Clay Hammond
Zoe Saldana
as Dora Jansen
Olivia Wilde
as Daniella
Ben Barnes
as Young Man
John Hannah
as Richard Ford
Michael McKean
as Nelson Wylie
J.K. Simmons
as Mr. Jansen
James Babson
as Dan Zuckerman
Vito DeFilippo
as New York Apartment Doorman
Ron Rifkin
as Timothy Epstein
Brian Klugman
as Jason Rosen
Gianpaolo Venuta
as Dave Farber
Brent Skagford
as Soldier #2
Andrew T. Mackay
as Soldier #3
Zeljko Ivanek
as Joseph Cutler
Gloria Cooper
as Rory's Mother
Weston Middleton
as Nick Weinstein
Lee Sternthal
as Brett Cropsey
Holden Wong
as Fordham's Assistant
Daniel Gervais
as Fordham's Assistant
Anders Yates
as Clay Hammond's Assistant
Leni Parker
as Journalist
Sebastien Pilotte
as Celia's Husband
Emile Rivard
as Celia's Child
David Gow
as Hotel Desk Clerk
Kathleen Fee
as Woman on the Bus
Keeva Lynk
as Cynthia
Jeanie Hackett
as Joyce Weinstein
Gordon Masten
as Elderly Man
Jude Beny
as Elderly Woman
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News & Interviews for The Words

Critic Reviews for The Words

All Critics (123) | Top Critics (35)

  • A mostly middling drama.

    Sep 7, 2012 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • The story-within-a-story-within-a-story is so slight and inconsequential, like the tiniest of a set of Russian nesting dolls, that we may be forgiven for letting our minds wander toward bedtime and tomorrow's errands.

    Sep 7, 2012 | Full Review…
  • The premise is ambitious -- if not a little hokey -- but the meager themes of ephemeral authorship and constructed realities aren't exactly revelatory.

    Sep 7, 2012 | Full Review…
  • Bradley Cooper's funniest movie since "The Hangover" - unfortunately, unintentionally this time ...

    Sep 7, 2012 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…
  • This film's layered storytelling lacks the fluidity, grace, or good humour, to pull off its conceit.

    Sep 7, 2012 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Romanticized claptrap.

    Sep 7, 2012 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

    Frank Lovece

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Words

There is virtually nothing that works in this convoluted, nonsensical and terribly-written drama in which not even the visuals escape the artificial and clichéd, and so everything is a complete failure, from the expository narration to the ridiculous story-within-a-story-within-a-story structure.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

The ability to write should be first among the qualifications required to write a movie about a writer... but all through this film, all I could think was, "No one involved with this film has ever written anything!" And the attempt to lean on narration - it's like the book you're reading! - falls completely flat, as it's never quite clear who is supposed to be narrating, or (of course) who would read a book were it this badly written. I'd recommend You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger well before this one, which has a similar plot but comes from Woody Allen, who may have written a thing or two before the present movie. I really like the premise, and the talented cast does its best with this disastrous script, but unfortunately The Words is much more about the idea of being a writer than it is a believable story of anything a writer might think/want/do.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

People didn't like this much. Why?..because of the story, inside of a story, and partly inside another story? or because of the ending that left you wondering what was really true? I found this movie mesmerizing. There isn't one bad actor in this, that is for sure. The story was heartbreaking, and intriguing. It was beautifully done, and left me with a feeling of awe. Usually, endings like this one make me really mad. For some reason, this ending seemed to fit the movie...

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

The Words story within a story within a story structure takes away any dramatic impact the film might have had. The performances are actually pretty good, especially Jeremy Irons and Bradley Cooper, but the script tries to be more complex and interesting than it needs to be. The story holds your attention from the beginning, but the more things are revealed the less interesting the story becomes by the end of it. Olivia Wilde's character could have been cut entirely because it is just a poor character with no motivations at all. The Words has some interesting points to make, including living with the choices we make and how no one can help you live with those choices except yourself, where writers draw the line between fiction and real life, and how hard it is to get a book published in these harsh economic times. All these interesting points are drowned out by a poor ending, though. The script just tries a little too hard to cram too many plot elements into an otherwise very interesting, engaging, and well acted story for the first 3/4 of the film. I'm torn because The Words really kept me engaged and wondering what was going to happen next, like any good thriller can, but botches it trying to get to the end. I can't quite recommend it, but it is certainly an interesting misfire.

Josh Lewis
Josh Lewis

Super Reviewer

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