The Voices


Director: Marjane Satrapi.
Screenplay: Michael R. Perry.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick, Gemma Arterton, Jacki Weaver, Ella Smith, Sam Spruel, Paul Chahidi, Stanley Townsend, Adi Shanker, Valerie Koch.

Friday I had a pretty cushy gig. Had lots of friends, I was the office hottie… now I’m a severed head in a fridge. Sucks to be me…

In 2007, director Marjane Satrapi delivered the autobiographical, coming-of-age animation Persepolis. It garnered her an Oscar nomination, making her the first woman to receive a nomination in the Best animated category. Foreign language films, Chicken with Plums and The Gang of the Jotas followed after but these two films slipped under the radar. Now, though, she tackles the American market with a blackly comic, serial killer tale.Ā 


Plot: Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a likeable and charming factory worker who, with the help of his court-appointed psychiatrist (Jacki Weaver), plucks up the courage to ask his co-worker (Gemma Arterton) out on a date. However, when she stands him up, Jerry looks to his household pets for advice and things start to take a much more sinister turn.

I suppose I should put my hands up and express my feelings when it comes to Ryan Reynolds. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan. He’s one of those actors that seems to rub me up the wrong way even though he hasn’t done anything of particular note that would lead me to feel such disdain towards him. That’s exactly why I nearly avoided this film altogether. That said, credit where it’s due. Reynolds is absolutely brilliant in The Voices and he plays a huge part in making the film work. He displays a whole myriad of emotions and shows good range in doing so. He plays Jerry like the clean-cut, boy next door but it isn’t before long that he shows a nervousness and social dysfunction with sadness and anger eventually culminating into a brooding danger. That’s before we even get to the fact that he provides the voices to his pets which add a lot of welcome humour. His dog Bosco is an adorable docile support to him, while his cat, Mr. Whiskers is a malevolent manipulator. At first, it seems that Reynolds doing the voices of the animals is nothing more than a gimmick but there’s a moment within the film where the cracks of his character appear and the voices shift from being a gimmick to a being an essential part of the plot. It makes perfect sense and transpires to be a very clever decision. Their voices could have been provided by someone else but the fact that it’s Reynolds adds a very important element to the film.

Despite the macabre material, though, the film is also genuinely hilarious at times and Satrapi also uses many flamboyant touches to bring a really colourful palette to its darkness. It possesses the type of humour that wouldn’t be out of place in the hands of the Coen brothers while also managing to deliver on the more twisted elements that they are known for.

This is a film that could quite easily fall prey to being tonally uneven but the script is really sharp and Satrapi’s handling of the different tones are near seamless. It’s an ambitious gamble from the director but it’s one that she manages to pull off. What could have been an inconsistent mess turns out to be a very clever and surprisingly astute depiction of mental health and the psychological motivations behind a disturbed schizophrenic.

I have to say, I was taken aback by how good The Voices was. It seems to have gained some traction but, for the most part, this has been a hugely underrated and unappreciated little film that boasts a career best performance from Reynolds.


Mark Walker

Trivia: Reynolds modeled the voice of the cat, Mr. Whiskers, after a Scottish friend he has known for over twenty years.

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15 Responses to “The Voices”

  1. This looks wild. Thanks for the heads up, Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was so weird! But kind of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Was kinda put off by the terrible poster and not so great trailer; yours is the first positive thing I’ve heard said about it! Your opinion is trusted, however!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was surprised by this, Mark. Really surprised with the tonal balance it achieved. I’m not even a fan of Reynolds but I thought he was great here. I have a lot of admiration for this little flick.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This looks strange but compelling. Dark comedy can go either way I think. When done well, it can be something interesting indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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