The Words [2012]

It doesn't qualify as science fiction, but The Words offers almost as many layers as Christopher Nolan's labyrinthine Inception. In the framing device, bestselling author Clay Hammond (a very good Dennis Quaid) reads passages from his novel, The Words, about Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper), a struggling writer whose fiancée, Dora (Zoë Saldana), sticks by him during the years he spends toiling away on his first book. Though he isn't without ability, he can't find a taker, so he gets a mailroom job with a publishing house. While honeymooning in Paris, Dora buys him a vintage satchel in which he finds an unsigned manuscript. After she breaks into tears at the beauty of the prose--thinking she's finally gotten a true glimpse of his talent--he publishes The Window Tears under his own name, and it becomes a literary phenomenon, but then a shadowy figure starts following him around. The Old Man (Jeremy Irons) turns out to have ties to the text, which centers on a young American (Ben Barnes) stationed in France during World War II, who loses his heart to literature and love (Nora Arnezeder) in ways both wonderful and terrible. The three story strands, which involve Olivia Wilde as an overly intense fan, mean to comment on each other in ways that don't always pan out, but debut directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal have crafted a smoothly suspenseful tale that couldn't be timelier in light of the plagiarism scandals that have been rocking the publishing world. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

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