THE VOICES ★★★
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.