Amazingly, though, Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, cowriters and codirectors of The Words, have the audacity - and the skill sets - to pull this all off. They wrest emotional truth out of hokum. They also wrest intelligent, nuanced performances from their cast.
—Steven Rea Philadelphia Inquirer
The performances, excepting perhaps Olivia Wilde's odd turn, are solid, and the central story never loses our attention, but there's a lingering aftertaste of vague dissatisfaction.
—James Berardinelli Reel Views
It's more or less a grown-up picture, and not bad at that, though its muted and patient style has both its merits and its drawbacks. Still, as I say: not bad.
—Michael Phillips Chicago Tribune
Ironically, the dialogue in The Words is its chief failing.
—Claudia Puig USA Today
For a tale of thieving, The Words plods along. Not that a literary heist is as exciting as a bank robbery, but there's a remarkable lack of tension in this story.
—Mary Pols Time
I enjoyed the settings, the periods and the acting. I can't go so far as to say I cared about the story, particularly after it became clear that its structure was too clever by half.
—Roger Ebert Chicago Sun Times