The Voices: Film Review

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I wanted to see this because it looks so flippin’ weird but I was interested to see how it would be done. A comedy-horror/thriller is a hard to pull off and I wouldn’t have pictured Ryan Reynolds being a lead in this type of movie but this was bizarre in an enjoyable way and has changed my mind about Ryan’s acting abilities – he was good!

It’s about a mentally ill guy named Jerry, who is off his medication and believes his pets are talking to him. His dog is the good guy, always complimentary and positive whereas the cat is evil and he encourages Jerry to kill people. He soon realises that he isn’t as in control of himself as he thought and his world soon begins to unravel.

It is a fucked-up concept (as director Marjane put it) and it’s a surprise Ryan pursued the role so fiercely. This is the best acting I’ve ever seen from him, especially when he realises his world isn’t as normal as he thinks. Jerry can go from being strangely happy and smiley, to tearful to ‘accidental’ serial killer and Ryan plays all parts of his mentally ill spectrum well. He is incredibly believable, which surprised me because I always associate him with romantic comedies. This definitely shows off his range.

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Also, I was amazed to discover he voices the pets he chats to because they all have defined accents and personas. For example, Mr Whiskers the evil cat has a thick Scottish accent and Ryan is impeccable with it, so much so that I didn’t realise it was him until the credits rolled. Impressed.

The main laughs come from the talking animals because they come out with some gems and of course, the sheer absurdity of Jerry chatting with a severed head. Gemma is hilarious in this because she has to be funny and witty without moving her neck too much. Everything she does has to do is constrained to just facial movements. Even though it is gory, I wouldn’t call it horror though and it only really goes into thriller terrority when you realise he is going to kill again.

What I think is done well is that Jerry is never portrayed as a bad guy but as a product of a traumatic childhood and mental illness. The world is seen through his eyes so you never really know how he is actually perceived by others until nearer the end. What was great about this is how the appearance of his apartment told so much of the story. We see his home as a clean and normal, but that’s how he sees it, and isn’t until he takes his medication that you see it is actually disgusting – filled with Tupperware boxes filled with human remains, littered with animal faeces and smelling totally rank. I loved how the set portrayed his state of mind.

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I didn’t like it so much when it started going a bit religious and talking about how God knows he is a killer etc and the ending was a bit odd. The comedy had left by this point because Jerry was out of control but after the final scene, it moves into a musical number for the credits which I thought was totally out of place. The singing and dance were enjoyable but it ruined the tone of the ending.

Besides that little quibble, it is very enjoyable and a clever piece of writing and acting. I love the characterisation of the animals and how comedy and sadness were easily interchangeable. This all hinges of Ryan and he was very impressive. I would recommend you see this when it comes out later this year but do be warned that it is rather gory, so not for the faint-hearted.

Please note: I originally posted this review in April 2014 after seeing it at the Sundance London Film Festival. I am reposting now to coincide with the U.K. cinema release on Friday 20th March. 

Ryan and Gemma also attend at Q&A after the film screening, which you can read about here.

Trackbacks

  1. […] gave written a separate review (read here) but in summary, the movie is about a mentally ill guy named Jerry, who is off his medication and […]

  2. […] with lots of blood and laughs in equal measure. Co-starring Anna Kendrick and Gemma Arterton. Read review here. Released: 20th […]

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