What should we do with “The Words”? I had planned to watch it, but there’s nothing to see. Well, not nothing. There are the eyes and teeth of Bradley Cooper as well as the lissome beauty of Zoe Saldana, who’s usually propping up Cooper’s head or removing something from the oven or wagging her backside in his direction. The movie is about literary fabulists and fantasies, and if all you’ve got for Saldana to do is bake and shake then, I suppose, alas, the fantasy’s been achieved.
But “The Words” aspires to depths greater than the sex we never see these two have. There’s nothing for the eye to do while the ear fills with the banalities of two streams of narration, one by Dennis Quaid, the other by Jeremy Irons, all of it built around a lie. It seems the sudden book-world stardom of Cooper’s character, Rory Jansen, is the product of deception. His first published novel is actually a WWII-era manuscript he discovers in the snazzy leather attaché case his wife, Dora (Saldana), bought for him in Paris. He wrote a couple of novels that failed to captivate a publisher. One executive (Ron Rifkin) says a book of Rory’s smells of truth but reeks of interiority, subtlety, and art. So this might be an allegory for how we in the audience wind up at a movie that smells only of disinfectant.