The Voices Review
What’s it About? Ryan Reynolds stars as Jerry, a factory worker unable to escape the voices he hears in his head, especially those of his cat, Mr Whiskers, and dog, Bosco. He tries to live a normal life, getting stuck in at work, but things turn sinister when he’s stood up by the British temp Fiona (Gemma Arterton). Also in the film are Jacki Weaver as his psychotherapist and Anna Kendrick as Fiona’s workmate, Lisa.
Verdict: Reynolds has had an interesting career dogged by a few high profile missteps and rom-com fluff. In what is surely a career move to get away from this, he takes on one of the most interesting roles of his career. On paper, Ryan Reynolds in a film with talking animals doesn’t sound like a step in the right direction, but this could be his Mud or Killer Joe, and set him on the path of his own ‘McConaissance’. His performance as Jerry could be the one that puts him back on the path towards acclaim and credibility, or potentially it could lead to further ridicule.
Jerry is pleasant but comes across as vacant, dead behind the eyes – free from incarceration but haunted by something from his past. Reynolds is perfect for this. Despite his obvious good looks, Jerry’s subtle mannerisms instantly make him a little out of tune with everybody around him, a bit of a Norman Bates, – and that’s even before we see him talking to his pets and his pets talking back (also voiced by Reynolds).
We’ve seen CGI animals many times on screen now, but it’s usually reserved for children’s films, where it doesn’t take you out of any drama. Here, it’s likely to divide audiences. Either you can accept them speaking or you can’t. If you can, then you’re in for a real treat in this blackest of black comedies. If you can’t, then it will likely completely take you out of the film.
Mr Whiskers mocks Jerry mercilessly, speaking like Fat Bastard from Austin Powers, whilst the goofy Bosco keeps assuring Jerry that he’s a good guy. The two pets essentially act as the angel and devil on Jerry’s shoulders whenever he’s at home. Mr Whiskers provides a lot of the film’s black humour – he’s essentially the devil that appears in Animal House – but he also encourages him to ask out Fiona, from which things take a turn for the worst.
This is far from a straight up comedy. It takes in a number of genres and tropes, with slasher elements and some scenes so tense it’s really hard to watch (or look away from). The film takes some very gory, shocking and interesting turns as Jerry indulges the voices in his head.
The contrast between how Jerry views the world normally to how it looks when he takes his pills is brilliantly played. When he starts taking his pills (as instructed by his psychotherapist), his world goes from a bright, cartoon-like idyll to a grimy, bloodied apartment that will make you feel like taking a wash. Let’s hope this one isn’t shown in 4DX. It’s these scenes, though, that actually give us some sympathy for Jerry, coupled with some flashback scenes as we discover the roots of his trauma.
From Marjane Satrapi, the director who wrote and directed Persepolis, music unsurprisingly plays a key role in this film, with original music that mentions events of the film. There’s also an ending musical number that takes the film to a new level of weird that will leave you with a huge smile on your face (after 100-minutes of mixed emotions).
Arterton and Kendrick are both great, despite the film belonging to Reynolds (and Jerry’s pets). Arterton has her Brit-out-of-water in small-town-USA act down to a T, and Kendrick is sweet as a naive romantic. As all of the posters and trailers reveal, Arterton spends some of the movie solely as a head, and both she and Kendrick definitely seem to be having a lot of fun here (and have great voices too).
Final Words: The Voices is sure to polarize people. For everyone that embraces and enjoys the surprises, the weirdness and dark humour, there’s likely to be somebody else that won’t appreciate it. The Voices tries a little hard to stay ‘weird’, but it’s a lot of fun as a serial killer spoof that’s set to entertain.
The Voices is released in the UK on 20th March.