Wednesday, February 18, 2015

[Review] The Voices

Directed by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), The Voices is one of those oddball films that is so off-the-grid that it's kind of impressive that it even got made. This strange psycho-comedy commits itself as a maniacal and horrific version of Doctor Dolittle. The cast contains a couple of big names in Ryan Reynolds and Anna Kendrick, but it's about as far as possible from a studio romantic comedy in which you'd think these two would be starring together.

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a square, textile factory worker. He frequently sees a therapist (Jacki Weaver) where he lies about taking his medication. And because of this, his pets literally talk to him (all of them are voiced by Reynolds). What starts as something unsuspecting with a bit of whimsy--turns into something batshit insane. I won't go into too much detail, but a gruesome murder turns the tide as Jerry spirals down a whirling path of WTF and begins to hear more and more voices from things that he shouldn't be hearing voices from. I found myself imagining this character as a bizarro fixation from a lost season of "Dexter". And if things weren't already squirmy enough, Jerry finds a new love interest named Lisa (Anna Kendrick), and she has no idea about the secrets he hides.

The tones and genre-mixings are all over the board, yet the film manages to be a uniquely well-wrought unit. It pushes to those uncomfortable lengths where you're not sure if you should be laughing or not. The story often hits with equal parts sharp comedy and dark tragedy. Sometimes these types of sporadic and abstract films can result in a turn-off (like last year's Horns), but in the case of The Voices, it's difficult to look away, and there's enough engrossing intrigue to make you wonder how the hell all of this is going to turn out.

Ryan Reynolds escapes his recent plunge into banality and lands a perfectly eccentric and delirious role here that feels somewhat like its own resurrection. His character does hideous things, yet remains sympathetic throughout. With that said, The Voices will still fall in the category of "not for everyone", and there isn't much in the way of resonation or resolution, but with a film as disturbingly schizophrenic as this, we wouldn't really expect it.


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