The Voices

the voices 2014
The Voices [2014] is directed by Marjane Satrapi (Chicken with Plums and the Oscar-nominated Persepolis) and stars Ryan Reynolds as Jerry, a socially awkward factory worker who gets a crush on the office hottie, Fiona (Gemma Arterton). Jerry decides to finally ask her on a date and this is where it gets interesting. Jerry is emotionally troubled, struggles with hallucinations, and frequently has full-blown conversations with his pets. Things take a dark turn when Fiona stands Jerry up for a date.

Thought I noticed you from somewhere… The Voices reminded me of Maniac (2012). As I soon found out, Maxime Alexandre was in charge of cinematography for both pictures. Alexandre does an excellent job by providing a distinct visual aesthetic that effectively communicates the innately unusual state of mind of the protagonist. We’re given the rose-colored glasses (a reason for the use of pinks and reds?) which Jerry has become so accustomed to and then once he figuratively takes them off, we bear witness to how disturbing his reality is.

Ryan Reynolds should be taken seriously. Whenever I hear about Reynolds, the unforgettable flop Green Lantern gets mentioned quite frequently. It’s a little unfair to base his entire acting cred on the unfortunate aforementioned movie role, He happened to do a great job in The Captive, a role that required he grieve the disappearance of his kidnapped daughter. In the role of Jerry, Reynolds embodies a man uncomfortable in his body, insecure about his place in the world, and plagued with mental instability.

Dark comedy for the wicked. The funny bits act as a way to defuse the tension, to what is a morbid, disturbing and sad subject matter and overall film narrative.  In The Voices, much of the comedy is derived from the dialogue spoken from the Jerrys hallucinated manifestations of his conscience: Bosco, the dog (the angel), and Mr. Whiskers, the cat (the devil). The Voices avoids resorting to using the animated dialogue of the pets as a prop. Cleverly written by Michael R. Perry (Paranormal Activity 2 and a slew of crime-focused TV shows), we get insight into the mental workings of a very ill character with slithers of comedic back and forth that make it all bearable enough to digest.

Supporting cast. Pleasantly surprised to see Anna Kendrick branch out into this darker genre and portray the character Lisa, the down-to-earth love interest. Her presence in the film is a welcome one and her likeability factor lends itself to the overall narrative. Gemma Arterton as Fiona is right on-the-nose casting.

Ryan Reynolds, talking pets, disturbed childhoods and the color pink mixed together happens to make a great dark comedy.

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