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Sundance London 2014: The Voices - Review

The Voices

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

RYAN Reynolds is at his best and most interesting as an actor when opting to work off-mainstream (as past successes Adventureland, The Nines and Buried prove). He’s on cracking form again in The Voices, a bonkers take on the serial killer genre that grips in spite of its flaws.

Reynolds plays Jerry, a new recruit at the shipping department of a toilet factory in a dead-end town, who pines for his British co-worker Fiona (Gemma Arterton) and harasses her for a date even though his pet cat (yes, you read that right) warns him against such a play.

Nevertheless, his dog feels Jerry has a shot. But when the subsequent ‘date’ goes very, very bad, Jerry winds up with blood on his hands and must decide whether to indulge his newfound appetite for murder or seek help.

The trouble is, Jerry is way beyond help. He’s off his meds and so far down a road towards insanity that nothing can bring him back – not even the romantic advances of yet another co-worker (Anna Kendrick), who offers him the most likely chance at salvation.

Directed with a heightened sense of the absurd and surreal by Iranian-born filmmaker Marjane (Persepolis) Satrapi and based on a script by Michael Perry, The Voices is an utterly insane experience that thrives in the company of an expert cast.

Reynolds is superb as Jerry, drifting from likeably awkward to horrifyingly demented, while both Arterton and Kendrick are excellent as the ladies in his life. Jacki Weaver also provides typically good value as his shrink.

But while their combined performances (and Reynolds’ in particular) mean that the film remains consistently watchable, Satrapi sometimes gets a little carried away. Tonally, the film is a little all over the place, with some of the black comedy jarring uncomfortably with the more dramatic scenes and the utterly insane climax feeling way, way off the mark.

Hence, while you have to admire the film’s willingness to bring something new to the serial killer genre and can truly marvel at the way Reynolds effortlessly subverts his suave image (this really is a masterful transformation that’s both comedic and disturbed), you may not always like the stylistic directions the film takes – some scenes opt for absurdist humour when a little more levity would have benefitted.

That said, it is highly amusing at times (especially in Reynolds’ use of cat voice-over), while also suitably gory and horrific. There is an air of menace and uncertainty pervading throughout that’s vaguely reminiscent of films like American Psycho.

The Voices is an insane ride through one man’s homicidal insanity that grips from start to finish. And while it certainly won’t be to every taste, it does deserve credit for daring to be different, even if it is handicapped by some of its wilder excesses. You won’t see too many other films like it.

Certificate: tbc
Running time: 107mins
UK Release Date: Tbc