Starring: Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana
Director: Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal
Runtime: 97 minutes
If you make a mistake, what do you do? Do you try to make up for your mistakes, or do you try to conceal them? The fact is, you can’t undo mistakes, and you have to live with the consequences however you see fit to deal with them. That is what this movie proposes, when writer Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) finds an old manuscript and turns it in as his own, becoming the new literary genius the world had been waiting for. Does he come clean, or does he try to hide the fact that the words for which he is so universally appraised, aren’t his own?
This all takes place inside Clay Hammond’s (Dennis Quaid) new book, which he is trying to promote. But as with anything fiction, there’s always a little pinch of truth to be found inside it. Or isn’t there?
Clay is doing a reading of his new book in front of an audience. He begins telling about his characters, which come alive on-screen. While he narrates, you can see what his characters are doing. These parts are intertwined with brief intermissions, when Clay takes a break to talk to some of the worlds best critics. Amongst them is Daniella (Olivia Wilde), who has a particular interest in Clay, either personal or professional.
There are basically three storylines in this film. The one in the real world with Clay, the one in his book with Rory, and another one within the book Rory plagiarized. All three of them contain an equally compelling story, begging for it to be continued. But, due to the intermissions, you have to wait for the ‘inception’ to continue.
Every layer could’ve easily be an autonomous movie, but instead you get all three packed into an intense 97 minutes. Therefore, they all seem to lack an extra bit of depth which only twenty minutes of extra footage could’ve easily accomplished. Instead, the shallow storylines lead to a predictable conclusion, which could’ve been avoided if there’d be more time. The ending isn’t satisfying enough, and should’ve had at least some more explanation. Instead, you have to fill in the blanks yourself, which isn’t very hard to do but it is a cheap gimmick nonetheless.
It is a good film with some deep philosophical propositions, but it only grazes the top of the subject. It lacks real depth, which is a shame, because the premise and three storylines are essentially great. It just moves too fast to explain itself.