One of the most anticipated events at the Glasgow Film Festival is the surprise film. Beforehand no details are given out and right up to the point of screening speculation is rife, even among staff at the GFT cinema. This year’s film turned out to be The Voices, starring Ryan Reynolds. Not being a huge fan of his previous work, I had mixed feelings as the film started. Within five minutes, I was totally hooked.
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a happy go lucky guy who enjoys his work at a bathtub manufacturing facility. The only thing missing from his seemingly idyllic life is the company of a woman. Under the guidance of his court appointed psychiatrist (Jacki Weaver) he starts to show some attention to Fiona (Gemma Arterton), who works in the factory office. After she stands him up on a date he bumps into her on his way home. One thing leads to another and he accidentally murders her. At home, with the dead body of Fiona, the voices on his head as heard through the evil cat, Mr Whiskers and the rather benevolent dog, Bosco, debate over what to do. Jerry has to choose between staying on the straight and narrow or taking a far more sinister path.
The fourth film from director Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) is a delightfully dark and sinister comedy. The entire film is viewed from the perspective of the main character of Jerry. He is the ultimate unreliable narrator as he is actually mentally ill. When he is off his medication the world seems brighter and cleaner with the people around him being just a bit nicer. During the day, it is always bright and sunny. At night, the town is filled with artificial light and colour. It is only when he is on the medication that the real world starts to creep in. His apartment is the prime example of this as we get a glimpse of what it is really like compared to the well laid out apartment in Jerry’s mind.
Ryan Reynolds is a revelation in this. He could always do comedy but this is a whole different type of performance. He provides the voices for all of the characters floating about in Jerry’s head. The foremost ones are superbly realised with the Scottish accent of Mr Whiskers sounding like something out of an Irvine Welsh novel. Reynolds takes the character of Jerry and makes him both sympathetic and quite creepy at the same time. It is a tricky balancing act that could have quite easily failed.
The supporting cast really helps to complete the film. Gemma Arterton’s characterisation of Fiona, in both life and death, is a selfish and rather shallow individual. She comes across as being quite enjoyable and approachable but below this exterior lies a harder person altogether. Even in death and as a severed head in the fridge she is manipulative and self serving. Anna Kendricks personality is the polar opposite of this as she is a shy and softly spoken woman who genuinely feels for Jerry.
The film has been marketed in some quarters as a horror comedy which doesn’t really do it justice. There are horror elements to it but it is rarely gory and has no shocks to speak of. The director has been quoted as saying that she is not a fan of the horror genre and tried not to make a film that felt too much like one. It is better described as a thriller with comedic elements. It works very well no matter how you classify it.
Overall, a sharp and blackly comic film that highlights the best from Ryan Reynolds. Recommended.