Valdosta Daily Times

September 17, 2012

‘The Words’: Worth hearing, seeing

Adann-Kennn Alexxandar
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — “The Words” (Drama: 1 hour, 37 minutes)

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons, Zoe Saldana, Ben Barns, and Olivia Wilde

Directors: Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal  

Rated: PG-13 (Profanity and sensuality)

Movie Review: “The Words” is just sweet enough to engage and just short enough to leave one wanting more. The story is about writer Clay Hammond (Quaid). A well-known writer, Hammond’s latest book is about a celebrated literary figure, Rory Jansen (Cooper). The fictional character Jansen plagiarized the novel “The Window Tears,” which was written by a young man (Barnes) during World War II about the struggles he and his wife Celia (Nora Arnezeder) shared. After much fame, gained from the success of “The Window Tears,” Jansen’s life is golden. Enter an old man (Irons), claiming to be the true author of “The Window Tears.”

If this film appears complicated, it is not. This is a plot within a plot within a plot. Layers of stories exist spanning three generations. Each is rewarding in its casual, poetic manner. The director-writers Klugman and Sternthal, in their directorial debut, weave an interesting story that leaves one wanting more.

Klugman and Sternthal tease their audience with sleight of hand, constantly engaging audiences to think beyond what is merely seen and heard. Their characters are romantic figures that charm. Even more, a sense of mystery is left when this film is finished that puts one at an energetic ease.       

The cast is captivating. Quaid is mysterious, and Wilde plays an interested suitor, equally intriguing. Cooper charms as a misguided writer aiming for fame. Saldana is beautiful as Cooper’s love interest. They are a real-life couple, so the chemistry was easy. Barnes and Arnezeder are a worthy romance, but Irons steals the show as a cantankerous old man coming to grips with a present that may wreck his past. His scenes with Cooper are invigorating.  

A certain symbolism exists here that makes this screenplay creative, although it is not as powerful as it could be. Still, a certain artistic conceptualization exists here that works as beautiful medium-weight mental floss.          

Grade: B (It is not Scrabble, but it is worth playing.)


“The Cold Light of Day” (Action: 1 hour, 33 minutes)

Starring: Henry Cavill, Verónica Echegui, Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver  

Director: Mabrouk El Mechri

Rated: PG-13 (Violence, sexual content and strong language)

Movie Review: This film has star power, and it boasts a unique plot. With those multiple pluses, it still fails as an action flick because it appears implausible and full of plot holes.

Businessman Will (Cavill) returns to his family’s sailboat to find his family has been kidnapped while sailing off the coast of Spain. Soon, Will learns his father, Martin (Willis), is really a CIA agent, and the people who have his family are looking for a mysterious briefcase that belongs to Martin. Multiple intelligence agents chase Will and his new acquaintance, Lucia (Echegui), looking for that mysterious briefcase.

This film takes place during a short period of time, less than two days. The time period appears to be much longer. This action drags along with frequent chase sequences. The entire time, it never makes any sense. Plenty of unanswered questions appear, mainly the motives of characters. Explanations for characters’ motivations are lacking. Instead, the audiences must make assumptions about characters’ behavior. This does not explain characters’ actions.

Two writers helmed this plot that appears unfinished. The story is stupid and not worthy of a big-screen production. Perhaps, producers were trying to showcase a handsome Cavill, the new Superman in next year’s “Man of Steel.” Audiences should already know Cavil from cable television’s “The Tudors” (2007) and “Immortals” (Director Tarsem Singh, 2011). “Cold Light of Day” is a poor showing for the talented Cavill. He does not appear to be an action star, although he is believable. With hope, he performs better as Superman.  

Echegui is the cute female lead. She brings a certain happiness to the film, but this lousy screenplay does not give her much to work with. Willis plays a rough guy — make that rough father here — very well. Here, he does not make the cut in this small role. Weaver is always enjoyable to watch. She has a demanding presence and seasoned beauty that mesmerizes, yet she cannot save this wayward production.

“Cold Light of Day” is similar to actor Liam Neeson’s flick “Taken” (2008) and last month’s “The Bourne Legacy” (2012). “Cold Light of Day” does not measure up to either.   

Grade: D- (Still trying to figure out what the title means ...)