USA | Germany 2014
Written by Michael R. Perry
Directed by Marjane Satrapi
Watched on 11.04.2015
I was looking forward to this for quite a while now (the first positive reviews came in already more than a year ago from the Sundance Film Festival), and I’m glad to say that “The Voices” didn’t disappoint. I love dark comedies – growing up in Austria, where “dark” is the predominant humor that can be found in movies, that shouldn’t really come as a surprise – thus this tale about a serial-killer-in-the-making who hears his cat and dog talk to him, pushing him to one dark deed after another, was right up my alley.
What I wasn’t quite prepared for was how frequently disturbing and occasionally even flat-out sad the movie was. Take the first murder for example. While a couple of folks at the movie cinema laughed out loud, I actually found the scene to be immensely tragic. In a weird way, I felt pity not just for the victim, but also for Jerry. As for the disturbing stuff… the first time that we see how his apartment really looks was one of the major standout-scenes of the movie for me. Just wow. And the flashback to his mother was really haunting too. Sometimes – like with Rob Zombies “Halloween”-remake – trying to explain evil can backfire. Here, however, it was essential, since Jerry is not supposed to be this inhuman evil force, but an extremely troubled human being that we should be able to sympathize with, despite his actions. Nevertheless, there’s obviously also a lot of humor to be found in here, mostly thanks to Bosco and Mr. Whiskers, perfectly capturing the completely differing personalities usually associated with Cats and Dogs. Bosco is the extremely loyal buddy who tries to steer Jerry away from his dark aspirations, believing that despite of what he’s done, he’s still a good person overall. Mr. Whiskers, on the other hand, is a self-centered asshole who tries to persuade Jerry to his way of thinking: Follow your impulses, do what you want – and only what you want – and never apologize for what you are. Now obviously, them talking is just a figment of Jerry’s imagination, giving voice to the two opposing forces struggling inside him (a point that’s emphasized by the fact that both of them are voiced by Reynolds himself). The resulting conversations were absolutely hilarious (I’ll probably hear my cats saying “Where’s my food, fuckface” whenever they’re whining for food for the rest of my life now).
While I always liked Ryan Reynolds, I don’t think that I’ve ever thought of him as a really good actor before. Here, however, he’s indisputably great as Jerry, giving a subdued, varied and convincing performance, perfectly bringing this flawed and troubled human being to life. I especially liked him in Jerry’s scenes at work, where he puts on a nice-guy-persona, always smiling and being nice, but it’s obvious that it’s just a sham. The steel behind his eyes and the falseness of his smile were constantly apparent. The rest of the cast was equally great. I’m hopelessly in love with Gemma Arterton anyway (who, I can’t stress this point enough, would have been the perfect Wonder Woman), and Anna Kendrick once again is cute as a button. They both portray their respective roles flawlessly and with a lot of verve and charm. Praise also has to go out to Ella Smith. It’s so nice (and, unfortunately, rare) to have a full-bodied woman in a movie who comes off as a regular, full-fledged character, and isn’t used for one fattie joke after another. Jacki Weaver – as Jerry’s therapist – rounds out the top-class cast. Pretty much the only thing that I didn’t care for was the musical number at the end. The movie ended on such a nice, perfect, tragic note – and as funny as the song was in itself, its cheerfulness didn’t really fit the prevalent mood of what came directly before it. Either way, I would have preferred it if “The Voices” would have allowed me to leave the cinema in a more somber, thoughtful mood, instead of cheering me out. Apart from that, “The Voices” is a brilliant dark comedy that was equally funny and disturbing.
PS: Check out my buddy Maynard’s review here!