The story of the purloined manuscript is a familiar one — recently it was used comedically by Woody Allen in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, for example. In Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal's story-within-a-story-within-a-story, it's the basis of a fable about an aspiring author, Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) who hasn't been able to interest publishers in his novel. He finds an old manuscript in a Paris antiques shop and submits the book as his own. The book becomes a meteoric success, making Rory world-famous. As expected, the true author (Jeremy Irons) appears one day, telling a woeful Parisian-garret tale worthy of Puccini. The moral dimensions of stealing another person's work are clear, but the screenwriters forgo the expected Faustian payback and dovetail into a parlor trick that blurs the line between fact and fiction. The resolution of this Russian nesting doll of a movie may leave viewers more confused than intrigued.
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