An­i­mal crack­ers

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY


Di­rected by Mar­jane Sa­trapi. Star­ring Ryan Reynolds, Anna Ken­drick, Gemma Arter­ton, Jacki Weaver, Ella Smith. Cert 16, se­lect re­lease, 103mins Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is the new guy at the Mil­ton Bath­room Fac­tory whose en­thu­si­asm for work is matched only by his af­fec­tion for his an­i­mals, in­clud­ing a dog called Bosco and a cat named Mr Whiskers.

We’re aware that Jerry has had some prob­lems: he is see­ing a psy­chi­a­trist (Weaver) who urges him to stick with his meds. We’re also aware that his an­i­mal com­pan­ions talk to him: good-na­tured Bosco af­fects a kind of Jimmy Ste­wart drawl and re­peat­edly as­sures Jerry that he is a good guy. Mr Whiskers, how­ever, says much darker, nas­tier things in a Scot­tish ac­cent.

What­ever equi­lib­rium the an­i­mal’s imag­ined voices have main­tained is de­stroyed when Jerry goes on a dis­as­trous date with the dis­dain­ful res­i­dent of­fice hot­tie Gemma Arter­ton. Can the ro­man­tic at­ten­tions of a pretty girl (Ken­drick) from the ac­count­ing depart­ment

save Jerry from him­self?

That would seem most un­likely. In a world where the term “black com­edy” is promis­cu­ously overused, The Voices is the real deal. Well, with­out the ac­tual com­edy. Work­ing from a clever and bleak screen­play by Michael Perry ( Para­nor­mal Ac­tiv­ity 2 and 3), direc­tor Sa­trapi utilises the same whim­si­cal flair she brought to Chicken with Plums, to more un­set­tling ef­fect. The Voices makes for a strange, air­less ex­pe­ri­ence, one that de­rives its dra­matic im­pact from its con­trar­ian car­toon­ish­ness.

Th­ese su­per­fi­cially comic touches, par­tic­u­larly the an­i­mal voices which are all per­formed by Reynolds, sug­gest Look Who’s Talk­ing for Dex­ter fans. In­stead, the film of­fers no light­ness, no re­lief, only grim psy­chopa­thy with flashes of DayGlo colours.

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