There's that great joke about a guy sitting in his doctor's office getting the results of his physical. The doctor looks at him seriously, pausing to glance at an X-ray, tapping his pen on the desk, and finally says, "That novel you have inside of you, well, it has to come out."
Granted, it's a cliché that we all have a book that is dying to get written, a story to tell, blank pages to be filled. If only there was time to get it all down. This is, in part, the essence of "The Words."
Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) wants not only to write compellingly, but is desperate to find an agent that will embrace his book. He desires to be not only a writer but a recognized writer, receiving the much-coveted affirmation from the literary community. His problem is that writing long, elegant sentences late at night, while his lovely wife, Dora (Zoe Saldana) sleeps, doesn't pay the rent. He needs an audience eager to buy his book and stand in line waiting for a signature. So far he has only a file folder filled with publishers' regret letters and little else.
The Cold Light of Day
While it's tempting to describe the plot of "The Words," which is layered and complex, in this case less is more. Bare bones: The narrative is about three authors and a single manuscript, written by a young soldier (Ben Barnes) stationed in post- World War II Paris, penned in hopes of purging debilitating emotions of grief and loss.
The movie first opens with a well-established New York City author, Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid), reading from his book, titled "The Words," to a welcoming audience. The story is about Rory and what turns out to be a crossroads moment. Rory decides to compromise his ethics and yield to his abiding ambition.
It's a moment that is initially harmless and truly understandable; however, events get away from him and he finds himself trapped between his core wish to create a novel that is stunningly well-received and the fact that he is haunted by his one singular act.
And so Rory's story is stitched together with Clay's and with that soldier who was stationed in Paris and met a French girl, fell in love, had a child, and wrote a book that was undiscovered for decades.
If you're even mildly attracted to words — ink on paper (indeed), or on a small screen — and find them compelling, then this film will resonate. Or, if you simply enjoy a mildly interesting narrative with a fine ensemble of actors, led by Cooper and Jeremy Irons, who gives a fine portrayal as an old man, you will likely enjoy "The Words."
The Cold Light of Day
While it's true that "The Cold Light of Day" is a weak knock-off of the "Bourne" franchise, it will likely appeal to those who enjoy action dramas.
The film also has a MacGuffin, an oft-used plot device first mentioned by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935. A classic example would be the Maltese falcon in the film of the same name. In the case of "Cold Light" it's a briefcase, the contents of which are never explained. Nor why it's important. Typical of a MacGuffiin. All that is known is that the bad guys want it back and the good guys aren't about to give it up. Whatever is in the MacGuffin is a matter of national security. For someone.
The setup, while familiar, does have possibilities, beginning with Will Shaw (Henry Cavill), business consultant, who has arrived on the coast of Spain. He and his family (Mom, dad, brother) are about to leave for a weeklong sail.
Will needs a few things and swims into town. Later he returns to the beach for the return swim and scans the horizon. No anchored boat. After a brief hunt he does find the ketch; however, it's vacant.
And so begins a really prolonged chase: Will is running for his life, surviving by his wits, while in a permanent state of confusion and terror. Occasionally his cell rings. It's a familiar trope.
Is "The Cold Light of Day" a B-movie? Definitely. But if it's been a while since you've seen a MacGuffin, this one is worth the price of admission.