Lies, mistakes, stolen life: the explicit and hidden meanings of the film The Words (2012): plot summary, ending meaning, essence, similar films.
Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller, Detective
Year of production: 2012
Director: Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal
Actors: Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde
tagline: “There’s more than one way to take a life”
The plot of the film “The Worlds”: a young writer discovered someone else’s manuscript and published it under his own name. This is a deep and interesting picture, a detailed analysis of its plot will help to understand the meaning of which.
What is the movie about
Renowned writer Clay Hammond presents his new book, Words, to the public and reads the first chapter.
An old man stands outside the hotel and watches as young writer Rory Jansen and his wife Dora get into the car. Then he returns home, and the couple go to the ceremony, where Rory is presented with a prestigious award for his book.
Bradley Cooper played the role of Rory Jensen and Zoe Saldana starred as Dora. Frame from the film.
The action is back. Rory lives with Dora, writes books at night, but publishers reject them. When Jansen once again comes to his father to borrow money, he offers him to find a normal job.
After a while, Rory follows the advice and gets a job at a publishing house in the hope of finding the right connections. Soon he marries Dora. The newlyweds go on their honeymoon to Paris. In an antique shop, Jansen discovers a worn briefcase and buys it.
Back at home, at night Rory examines the briefcase and discovers the manuscript. He reads it: it is the tragic story of the marriage of an American soldier and a French waitress who lived in Paris before and after the war.
All the next day, Rory thinks about the manuscript, about its origin and its author. He understands that all the words in it are what he has been striving for all his life and what he could not achieve. This makes him doubt himself: in the evening he tells his wife that he is not who he thought he was and will never be.
At night, Rory reads the manuscript again, and then retypes it to feel the words go through fingers and soul and understand what it feels like to touch history.
The next day, Dora says that she accidentally saw Rory’s new story. It follows from the content of her words that this is the best that he wrote and that she always believed that he could open up. She invites him to show the book to her publishing house. Jansen tries to tell the truth, but hesitates. He takes the reprinted book to the publisher and gives it to Joseph Cutler.
Frame from the film.
After reading the story, Cutler offers Rory a contract and publishes the book. She becomes popular, Jansen receives a prestigious award.
Clay Hammond says the first chapter is finished. During a break, he meets a young journalist, Daniella, who is interested in his work, and then returns to reading the novel.
According to the plot of the film “Words”, in the second chapter of the book, Rory sits in the park and reads a book. An old man sits down next to him and wonders what it’s like to feel famous. Jansen replies that it’s nice to have your work recognized. The old man says that he liked the book and that when he read it, it was as if he himself was sitting in post-war Paris, drinking wine, loving a girl, hearing a child cry in the night. He asks Rory for an autograph and then invites Jansen to record a new story and publish it. It’s about someone who wrote a book but lost it, and about someone else who found and published the manuscript.
The old man talks about a young man who was drafted into the army during the war and ended up in Paris. Here he began to read good books and wanted to become a writer, but did not know how to write. Then he met the waitress Celia.
After the end of the service, the young man came home and began to write about his life in Paris, but nothing worked, the words did not go. He returned to France to Celia, got a job as a journalist and began to comprehend the craft of writing. Soon he married a girl, they had a daughter. Happiness was short-lived: the child fell ill and died, Celia withdrew into herself and went to her relatives. From her explanation in the note she left, it followed that she needed to be alone.
Jeremy Irons as the old man. Frame from the film.
After reading the note, the young man put the sheet with it into the typewriter and began to write about himself and Celia. Words came by themselves, he worked day and night. Two weeks later he finished the book and went to his wife, but Celia told him to return to Paris. The young man left, leaving her the manuscript. After a while, his wife returned to him. She carried the book in a leather briefcase, but forgot it on the train. This caused a scandal, which the old man, according to him, regrets to this day.
From the description of further events, it becomes known that the couple tried to improve relations, but it did not work out. The young man went home, leaving Celia in Paris. He didn’t see her again. He could not write again: there were no necessary words.
Years later, the young man became an old man. Once in the store he saw an advertisement for a new book. He began to read it and recognized his novel.
Rory says it’s all a misunderstanding, but the old man replies that it’s not. This book is his story and his life, and Jansen must know what is behind it, because he now lives, knowing the truth. In parting, the old man says that he sees no point in quarreling, and leaves.
Clay Hammond says chapter two is done. Danielle asks him to tell the end of the story. The writer invites the girl home and continues the story.
After the old man leaves, Rory thinks about what he heard for a long time, and then decides to get drunk. Drunk, he returns home and tells Dora that he did not write the book, but only retyped the manuscript. Jansen says that he wanted too much for it to be written by him, and was also influenced by Dora’s look and her words that he finally revealed his talent. The wife calls him a liar and leaves.
The role of Clay Hammond was played by Dennis Quaid, and the role of Danielle was played by Olivia Wilde. Frame from the film.
In an attempt to make amends for what happened, Rory reveals the truth to Cutler and asks that his name be removed from the cover of the book, and that the old man be named the real author. The publisher replies that everyone will suffer in the end: Rory will lose his reputation, and Cutler will lose his job. He advises the writer to give money for the book to the old man, but not to make a mistake and ruin his life. He then invites Jansen to read the reviews for his second book. Rory asks if she’s as good as the first one. Cutler is silent, the writer thanks him and leaves. The hidden meaning of this scene is that from the look of Joseph, Jansen realized that his romance had failed.
Rory meets Dora. She says that everyone makes mistakes and asks her husband to stop trying to fix what happened, because by doing this he destroys his life and their marriage.
Rory goes to the old man, asks for forgiveness, says that he wants to fix everything and tries to give him money for the book. The old man refuses, promises not to pursue Jansen and invites him to live as before. He explains that Rory can’t just go and take someone’s life without paying for it. If the writer took his story, his wife and child, then he must take his pain, which he feels.
The old man says that he once again saw Celia from the train window: she was standing on the platform with a child and another man and looked happy. He felt pain again, but it helped him move on and start living. The old man says that he realized his mistake: he loved the words and the book more than Celia and attached more importance to them.
The old man asks Rory to leave and not come back. He says that everyone has to make a choice and then learn to live with it. Jansen made his choice by appropriating someone else’s book, and now he needs to live with it further.
A month later, Rory learned that the old man had died keeping the secret. However, the happy life of the young writer collapsed.
At the end of The Words, Clay Hammond, having told Danielle how the story ends, explains that there is no morality and deserved punishment in it. He says that the hidden meaning of the ending is the hope that a person, realizing that he made the worst mistake in his life, will be able to live with it further.
Daniella realizes that the book is an autobiography, and Rory himself is Hammond in his youth. She asks to tell what happened next, but Clay invites her to answer the question herself.
The girl suggests that Rory returned to his life, perhaps continued to write, but it no longer mattered. Having deceived everyone, he lost the chance to find out what he really is worth as a writer. His marriage fell apart, because between him and Dora there was still an obstacle in the form of lies and the revealed truth.
Hammond puts forward his version: Rory will end up in the apartment where they are now, with a beautiful girl who is much younger than him and will tell her old stories all evening. The point is, says Clay, that there is a very thin line between fiction and reality, they are close, but not touching.
The girl kisses Hammond, but he asks her to leave. To Daniella’s question – what does Clay want – the man does not answer, but we see the scene in which Rory hugs Dora and asks to forgive him. The meaning of the ending of the film “Words” is that Jansen-Hammond is still waiting for forgiveness from his wife and hopes to return her.
Ben Barnes as a young man, Nora Arnezeder as Celia. Frame from the film.
The meaning of the film
The essence of The Words can be seen through its slogan: “There is more than one way to take a life.” The young man wrote a story about himself, his wife and child, and put his feelings, joy and pain into it. Taking the manuscript, Rory, according to the old man, took and appropriated his life. That is what worries him, he does not need the money and fame that Jansen offers. He just wants Rory to know the truth and, along with the story, take it for himself and begin to understand what the old man experiences when he remembers what happened. He speaks directly to Jansen about this.
Perhaps if the old man’s book had been about something else that didn’t concern him personally, he wouldn’t have gone looking for Rory. What played a role here was what he wrote about himself, shared his personal experiences, but they were appropriated and published by a stranger who did not understand his feelings. Did Rory realize what the old man was trying to tell him? It can be assumed that he does, because because of what happened, he also loses his wife, and then regrets it and waits for forgiveness all his life.
The film “Words” has another interpretation: it is a story about choices, about mistakes and their consequences.
The old man says that in his youth he made a mistake: he could not forgive his wife for the loss of the manuscript, because, according to his own statement, he loved the words more than her. This destroyed their relationship, and he made a choice: he returned to the United States. He later regretted it, but was able to move on, but he constantly remembers what happened and is in pain.
Rory Jansen also makes his choice, behind which Hammond himself is hiding. He made the mistake of publishing someone else’s book under his own name. There were many consequences. His marriage was destroyed: his wife could not live, knowing that their happiness was built on a lie, and left him. He also lost the chance to find out what he was worth as a writer and whether he could succeed himself: the books he wrote were published because of the first, and not because they were appreciated.
Like the old man, Clay lives on, but constantly thinks about what happened. As a result, he decides to tell the truth in a new novel. The meaning of this act can be understood in different ways: perhaps he is trying to relieve himself of responsibility and atone for guilt. However, there may be another reason: by revealing the truth, he hopes to return his wife. The ending explanation confirms this: Jansen-Hammond expects Dora to forgive him and rejects Daniella.
The main ideas of the drama “Words” are listed above, but it can have other interpretations. Thus, it can be viewed in terms of relationships and trust in the family, as well as a picture of the complexities of the writer’s craft. “Words” is an interesting multifaceted film, when watching which everyone can see something new, in addition to the main meaning.
Frame from the film.
- “Secret Window” (USA, 2004). A stranger comes to a lonely writer and accuses him of plagiarism.
- “Areas of darkness” (USA, 2011). As part of an experiment, a writer experiencing a creative crisis takes a secret drug that completely changes his life.
- “Clock” (USA, UK, 2002). The film is about three women living in different eras, but closely related to each other by a novel by writer Virginia Woolf.