The Voices August 27, 2015
The Voices stars Ryan Reynolds as Jerry, a factory worker so overtly cheery about every aspect of his life that his positivity could easily be seen as draining by the most pessimistic pessimist. To most coworkers, he’s a nice guy handsome but slightly strange; little do they know, however, that he’s schizophrenic beset murderous tendencies, ready to snap at any waking moment. His best friends are his pets, who, unsurprisingly, speak back to him whenever he tries to make conversation.
As one of his company’s newest employees, Jerry is placed in charge of organizing the factory’s annual picnic, where he meets and instantly falls in love with Fiona (Gemma Arterton), an English accountant. But he idolizes her more than he understands her, and after a freak accident, the beastly fire within him finally ignites after years of suppression.
To have a movie as conceptually dark as The Voices effuse such frothy comedic energy is no easy accomplishment, and Marjane Satrapi, along with her game cast, face the material head-on and make for one of the most unusually (and successfully) audacious films of 2015. Not to suggest that it’s one of the best — it’s simply one of the most original, most effortless when it comes to executing its eccentric vision. I can hardly say it’s my cup of tea — the sudden shift from black comedy to horror in its last act causes Satrapi’s extraordinary balancing act to collapse onto itself — but The Voices’s genre-bending instincts flow together with shocking effervescence, traveling back and forth between its goals without much issue.
Better yet is Reynolds, whose performances is everything Norman Bates was minus the menace and plus the amiability. His career is currently undergoing a low-key facelift, taking on difficult roles (The Captive, Mississippi Grind) in movies no one sees but critics flock to. It’s refreshing to see an A-lister busy their schedule with parts that serve their own interests instead of the public’s. How he is able to drift to and from sweetness and loony evil is monumental — it causes one to want to discover just what he’s capable of in other demanding roles.
Arterton, Anna Kendirck, and Jacki Weaver all make memorable appearances, but The Voices is really a place for Satrapi and Reynolds to put their talents onto a pedestal for everyone to marvel at. It’s hardly the kind of entertainment I like to lose myself in (it’s hard to deal with comedy revolving around such a disturbing subject), but I can admire just how hard Satrapi works to make her filmmaking senses tingle. B