For anyone who is lucky enough to own a pet you understand that talking to them is just inevitable. Great listeners and always ready for a cuddle it really is one of the pet owner perks. Having your pets talk back to you is not something the majority of pet owners have experienced. Yet in new black comedy The Voices this is exactly the problem its leading man Jerry is facing.
Directed by renowned graphic novelist and illustrator Marjane Satrapi, who is famed for her autobiographical graphic novel turned animated feature Persepolis, (which she also directed). Here she turns her talents to a script that spent time on the famous black list circling Hollywood, (great scripts that are unproducable).
The most obvious comparison the film will face is to American Psycho. Although the two films do indeed share many similarities the likeness is too glib. Although both portray male killers of women Jerry and Patrick Bateman are two very different characters.
Whereas Bateman can be described as a remorseless psychopath, Jerry feels like a sick young boy. With past traumas and a genuine regret for the acts of violence he commits, Jerry is wholly enslaved by his illness.
The films also differ in tone greatly. The Voices has a much lighter air despite the violent acts which reflect the depths of Jerry’s delusional state. His sickly sweet attitude remains, with the exception of brief moments of enlightenment. The humour in the film is more a consequence of Jerry’s mental health instead of there to offset the violence.
For some time now Reynolds has been circling the drain of good looking but lacking in the acting chops department. With his disastrous turn as the Green Lantern followed by commercial tripe such as R.I.P.D, his career seemed to have hit the reverse button. With The Voices Reynolds gives a blistering performance that is unlike anything he has done before.
What may be most impressive about Reynolds performance is its duality. Not only does Reynolds perform the voices of both his pets but is also able to portray Jerry in an innocent light despite his horrific acts.
The moments in the film where you see Jerry through his victim’s eyes or during brief moments of lucidity are perhaps where he shines the most. The switch from happy go lucky to tragic and traumatised is immense and creates real engagement with the character.
In playing Jerry, Reynolds has managed to dilute his Hollywood good looks to portray an awkward and even gawky ‘average’ bloke. All the usual clichés of the designer fit tees and obligatory shirtless scenes are not present here, showing what Reynolds can do on raw ability.
Despite the films brilliance it is a dark view of mental illness and schizophrenia. To those inflicted with the stigma of mental health a film that portrays a sufferer as a deranged killer must feel in bad taste. Yet this never feels like the films intension as it actually portrays lead Jerry as a victim to his illness, not its instigator.
The film has been given a limited and simultaneous on demand release which does not seem fitting for such a film. Maybe the dark subject matter might not appeal to a wide audience but this is a film that deserves to be seen, especially for Reynolds performance.
A darkly funny and brilliant take on the serial killer set-up. With a great script and a knock out lead performance if the film does not do well on release then at least cult film status should beckon.