Ryan Reynolds latest comedy, THE VOICES, is black – like pitch black.
The laughs are mixed with equally dark thriller elements. This film is basically a hybrid between Charlie Kaufman and AMERICAN PSYCHO.
That’s right, THE VOICES is a quirky and bizarre comedy about a deranged schizophrenic serial killer played by Reynolds – who talks to his cat and dog… and they talk back.
THE VOICES is a bizarre concoction – like BABE meets SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. This character actually hears VOICES in his head, his pets are just the vessel OR the speaker to rationalize this (sur)reality.
Before we are introduced to this bold concept we meet Reynolds at his factory job. With his strange behaviour we get the idea that he’s at least socially awkward. Once he’s at home we see how strange he really is – as he has full on conversations with his pets.
GEMMA ARTERTON appears as Reynolds unrequited love. She’s one of the company’s higher ups, working in accounting. They briefly talk about work, preparing an office party. Reynolds reads into this way too much, thinking this is his chance to ask her out. She reluctantly agrees once a co-worker (ANNA KENDRICK) chimes in and asks him to join them for what will be a rather awkward dinner out.
Reynolds reads the signals wrong. We can tell that Kendrick likes him more, but he’s too distracted by Arterton. Fast forward a bit and Reynolds asks Arterton out for dinner. She agrees, full well knowing she’s going to blow him off. We watch Reynolds wait hours for her at a quirky Chinese Buffet, watching a wacky Asian Elvis-type perform on stage. He waits until closing and drives home alone.
This is where THE VOICES twists into psycho territory. Our shy socially inept character has been oddly charismatic thus far due to Ryan Reynolds’ impressive portrayal. He’s weird, but lovable. We can kind of ignore the stranger qualities because we can’t resist rooting for the underdog. We’ve hung out with this lonely man for a bit and want to see him find love.
So…He’s driving home in the rain when he stumbles upon Arterton – who’s car is busted. He offers to drive her home. And we wonder if he feels rejected or if he figures out she ditched him.
WHAM! They hit a deer. Reynolds unsheathes a knife and puts the animal out of its misery. Arterton freaks out at what he’s been talking about. I don’t want to reveal everything, but let’s say since he’s a little deranged Reynolds thinks she’s an angel. The tension mounts until the deer moment, when Arterton (sprayed with blood) freaks out. She dashes into the woods.
Skip ahead, and now she’s a talking severed head in Reynolds fridge.
I’m not going to get into the second act, as I want to leave some surprises. The dog and cat take on a much bigger role. The dog signifies the angel on the shoulder from those old Looney Toons, and the cat represents the Devil. Reynolds voices both of these personas. The weirdness turns hilarious.
If you go along for the ride, there is perversely dark comedy to enjoy. These pets coach him through murder and how to hide evidence, while mocking him along the way.
Reynolds tries to maintain a normal life despite all the craziness. His psychiatrist (JACKIE WEAVER) urges him to take his medication. He tries them again after a long time off. His fantasy world fades and we see what his world is really like. The animals don’t talk. And let’s just say his house doesn’t look quite the same.
The Anna Kendrick storyline continues and we wonder if Reynolds can control THE VOICES and his psychotic urges. They have a perfect date. A beautiful relationship forms. Meanwhile, Weaver continues to have meetings with Reynolds. He can’t live life without his pets talking and the hallucinatory illusion of his surroundings. He battles the tragedy of his past, while trying to embrace a new life with love.
Be warned, THE VOICES is definitely a dark comedy with lots of disturbing material. While it’s violent and ridiculous at times, the film still analyzes the subject matter of mental illness. Rarely, have I seen a mentally disturbed person deconstruct their feelings and environment in such depth on screen.
Reynolds delivers a nuanced and layered performance in a genre that doesn’t usually focus on character. He pulls off the crazy challenge of playing a maniac with a soft heart. He doesn’t try and be funny, it’s the way these situations are handled. This world is real for Reynolds, he isn’t in on the joke.
Watch THE VOICES when you’re in the mood to watch a challenging comedy that doesn’t play it safe. This film examines the darkest corners of mental illness while also being a romantic serial killer story.
Stay tuned at the end and make sure to watch the End Credits Song… You’ll see. It leaves you with a fun moment after all the crazy disturbing moments of the finale. It’s a clear reminder, THIS is a comedy… It’s just not for everyone.
I hope I’ve highlighted a CULT CLASSIC contender with THE VOICES. This movie review is for my fellow movie nerds who enjoy hunting for that next hidden gem.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
Did you find THE VOICES funny? Who do you like more the Cat or the Dog?
What did you think of Ryan Reynolds?
Did you like the Anna Kendrick relationship?
Did you want to see more of Gemma Arterton?
What did you think of the visual design of the movie?