Monday, September 17, 2012

The Words


I saw The Words this afternoon and despite some gaffes -- an inexplicable confusion between editor and agent, for example -- liked it quite a bit.  Yeah, it's a story-within-a-story-within-a-story, but nobody in the theater was ever confused as to exactly what was going on.  All the actors were good and Jeremy Irons, as the old man, was magnificent.  And the moment when the writer decides to publish the novel he found as his own was a beautifully set-up emotional mousetrap.

The one genuine accomplishment of the movie is in portraying writers as being, at their core, infinitely crushable.  The script manages to capture the insecurity that, I'm here to say, dwells at the heart of every serious writer I've ever met.

The one genuine failure is the lack of real women.  Yes, all the actresses are good and some of them are magnificent.  And my complaint isn't that they're uniformly beautiful -- the men are too, so that's not it.  My complaint is that they're all mirrors to the men:  wives and girlfriends.  They have no lives and thoughts independent of their men.  Which is not women as I have encountered them. 

I complain not because I have some politically-correct agenda.  I complain because . . . well, because The Words could have been twice the movie it is now.

Which, as I've mentioned, I quite enjoyed.



Ken Houghton said...

So it's the long-awaited film version of The Book of Skulls, without the Lost Horizon framing device?

Michael Swanwick said...

To my embarrassment, I haven't read The Book of Skulls. It may be the only major Silverberg novel I haven't read.