What does the Old Man want from Rory? A confession? A recantation? And why is this story within a story being recounted by Quaid's Hammond character? How do these stories and characters tie together? The film’s answer to these questions is weak.

The Words wants to make a point about the choices we make in life, and the way in which we can build our lives and reputations on falsities (Proverbs 21:6). That’s a potent theme, but The Words has nothing fresh to say on the topic. Any impact is muted by the story-within-a-story-within-a-story structure; a more straightforward presentation would have been more effective.

Cooper and Saldana are more than adequate in their roles, but they can’t hold a candle to Irons, who steals the movie as the Old Man despite the distraction of bad old-age makeup. After Leonardo DiCaprio’s terrible makeup in J. Edgar and Guy Pearce’s horrendous old-age makeup in Prometheus, it appears a trend has developed. Why can movie studios create realistic other worlds through special effects, but fail to convince us that a human actor has embodied a character much older than himself?

The Words wants us to leave pondering life’s big questions and the Old Man’s wisdom. It wants us to consider the ramifications of our choices. Instead, I came away thinking about the filmmakers' choices to put Irons in bad makeup and to tell the story via a convoluted structure rather than the pointed options the Old Man presents Rory "between life and fiction."

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: Lord’s name taken in vain; “bulls---”; “pi-- ant”; “dumba--”; “a--”; “s-it”; the “f”-word
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Reference to a book’s description of wine tasting; smoking; drinking; Rory gets drunk
  • Sex/Nudity: Lovers kiss while lying on a mattress; woman shakes her backside at a man; several similar shots of Rory and Dora laying in bed, with Dora’s arm around a bare-chested Rory; passionate kissing within a dream sequence; in dim light, Rory puts on his shirt; references to a book’s description of love-making
  • Violence/Crime: Dead body covered by a sheet; a dead baby; a woman slaps a man
  • Marriage/Religion: Rory and Dora get married at City Hall; a soldier marries his girlfriend

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.

Publication date: September 7, 2012