The story unfolds in a three-tiered frame, beginning with novelist Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) reading from his book about the deception, and including the Old Man’s bitter recounting of his life story to the stunned Jansen.
Ernest Hemingway references abound – as a reminder that all good fiction originates with suffering. That sentiment notwithstanding, the Paris scenes are postcard perfection.
Jansen knows he has to make a choice when he encounters the Old Man. But the filmmakers, coming from an industry where the theft of ideas is more common than it is for fiction writers, muddy their resolution and cheat a bit. To elucidate whose story this really is, there’s a postlude with Hammond explaining to flirtatious graduate student Daniella (Olivia Wilde) how novelists plunder their own lives.
This talky drama is just the thing for those yearning to don tweed and corduroy, sip red wine and discuss literature on rainy nights.
The film contains two premarital situations as well as occasional profane and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.