UK Release Date: 20th March 2015
Runtime: 104 minutes
Director: Marjane Satrapi
Writer: Michael R Perry
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, Jacki Weaver, Ella Smith
Synopsis: When a mild-mannered, if unusual, man stops taking his pills to treat psychosis, the voices of his pets begin to drive him to acts of evil.
The combination of comedy and horror is a very difficult one to pull off. For every Shaun of the Dead or Tucker and Dale vs Evil, there’s a litany of completely unsuccessful, flat movies that get the genre balance completely wrong. The latest attempt to bring screams and laughter together is brilliantly offbeat indie The Voices, starring Ryan Reynolds in his weirdest role to date.
Jerry (Reynolds) is an oddball, upbeat factory employee, who takes medication to control his psychotic tendencies under the advice of Dr Warren (Jacki Weaver). When he doesn’t take the pills, he believes that his pets talk to him – with his cat manifesting as evil in opposition to his fiercely moral dog. When tragedy befalls his date with co-worker Fiona (Gemma Arterton), Jerry tries to get things right with Fiona’s friend Lisa (Anna Kendrick).
The Voices is a deeply bizarre film. Right from the start, it positions itself in a weird, pastel-coloured approximation of the modern world in which something is slightly off-piste. Immediately, the film has an unsettling tone, despite its outward sunny happiness. That tone is mirrored in the presentation of the film’s central character.
| "You totally stopped taking the pills, didn’t you?"
Jerry is a hell of a role for an actor, particularly one as in need of a career rehab as Ryan Reynolds. After the terrible Green Lantern and a series of awful comedies, this is a renaissance for Reynolds, who completely jumps headlong into the role. From the complex voice performance necessary to convey the voices he hallucinates to the bewildered way in which he commits his crimes, Reynolds shows a complete mastery of positioning his turn.
The feline Mr Whiskers and man’s best friend, Bosco, are individually tremendous comic characters. Whiskers’ profanity-laden Scotch barbs provide many of the film’s biggest laughs, alongside Bosco’s loveable, if slightly naive, asides. Reynolds does an excellent job of making the voices different enough to create discernible characters, but also similar enough to his own that they are recognisable as manifestations of his tortured psyche.
Alongside Reynolds’ various voices are nicely pitched performances from the duo of Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick. Both actresses are given roles straighter than that of Jerry in The Voices, but still maintain enough kooky affectation to make their mark. Kendrick, especially, has an effortless charm to her that plays off Reynolds perfectly.
Perhaps the best thing about The Voices, though, is that it is completely willing to take its ridiculousness and own it. It would be easy for director Marjane Satrapi’s film to be self-conscious about its sillier moments, but it instead chooses to warmly embrace its insanity. This only serves to make it funnier and more horrifying as it wings towards its characteristically tragicomic conclusion.
| "I wish I could help you Jerry… but I’m just a fish."
It’s easy to see how people could take against The Voices, because it is absolutely, unashamedly ridiculous. However, if you choose to relax, go with it and let it do its shtick, it can’t help but entertain – from murders to musical numbers. With Reynolds at the height of his offbeat powers, the signs are good for Deadpool.
Pop or Poop?
Ryan Reynolds goes weird in The Voices, which is one of the most pleasant surprises of 2015 thus far.
Reynolds is terrific in the central role and has excellent chemistry with Kendrick and Arterton, who only amplify the bizarre thrills of the film.
It’s a film that is best enjoyed if you leave logic at the door, strap yourself in and prepare for something that is uneven and strange – but you’ll never forget it.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.