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The Voices Review

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A dark comedy of the highest order, The Voices takes us to the over exaggerated, highly stylised  middle American town of Milton, where Ryan Reynolds continues his penchant for off-kilter roles with Jerry  Hickfang, an overly chipper factory worker who is hiding a serious mental illness from his friends and co-workers, one that manifests itself in the fact that he has regular conversations with his cat, Mr. Whiskers, and dog, Bosco, in which they talk back. Both voiced by Reynolds, they act as the angel and demon on his shoulder, with the somehow Scottish Mr. Whiskers urging him to give into the urge to be a killer he is fighting, while Bosco reassures him in a southern drawl that he is a 'good boy'. Refusing to take his meds, Jerry falls deeper into his madness, with the accidental killing of his co-worker Fiona (Gemma Arterton) seeing his life spiral out of his tenuous control.


It's hard to imagine someone else in the role of Jerry, Reynold's unrelenting likability going a long way to making the character of a schizophrenic murderer one that the audience can identify with. He's an immediately charming presence, and as he slips deeper into madness, his genial nature giving way to moments of pure pain and anger, he retains a spark of likability that will keep you rooting for him, even as he goes about sating his murderous urges. It's just one example of The Voices quirky charm. Director Marjane Satrapi (the Oscar nominated animation Persepolis) does a great job of balancing the humour with the heavier elements at play here, with only one or two moments, especially a last minute musical number that segues into the closing credits, failing to gel together. The supporting cast do an admirable job of keeping up with the leading man, especially Arterton and Anna Kendrick being her usual likable self, but this is definitely Reynolds show.

Satrapi perfectly illustrates Jerry's world in wonderfully subtle ways, from the pink overalls he wears at work being a bit too pink, or usually drab office buildings being that much brighter whenever he is around. It's when Jerry's mask of insanity falls away and we see him interact with the world in a brief moment of lucidity that we see what the real world appears to Jerry. It's an exceptionally powerful scene, and you feel Jerry's fear bleeding off the screen, so much so that it actually makes you wish that Jerry would stay off his meds forever, eternally living in this safe, colourful world where his cat shouts expletives at him and the disembodied head of Fiona spouts stereotypical English phrases from the fridge.

The story once or twice threatens to derail when it delves into Jerry's childhood, where the origins of his affliction lie, and the exact nature of his illness might not hold up under psychological scrutiny, but The Voices still is a wonderfully realised dark comedy, with Reynolds giving one of the best performances of his career. It definitely falls into the "not for everyone" category, and do not be surprised if this achieves cult status in the years to come.






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The Movie Bit: The Voices Review
The Voices Review
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