The Voices
dir Marjane Satrapi
scr Michael R Perry
prd Roy Lee, Matthew Rhodes, Adi Shankar, Spencer Silna
with Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick, Gemma Arterton, Jacki Weaver, Ella Smith, Paul Chahidi, Stanley Townsend, Adi Shankar, Sam Spruell, Valerie Koch, Gulliver McGrath, Paul Brightwell
release US 6.Feb.15, UK 20.Mar.15
14/US Mandalay 1h47
The Voices
Bad advice: Reynolds with Bosco and Mr Whiskers

kendrick arterton weaver
sundance london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Voices It's tricky to categorise this offbeat horror comedy, which maintains a playful tone even as things get genuinely dark and disturbing. But director Satrapi maintains a wonderfully witty visual vibe even as Perry's viciously clever script explores the pitch-black corners of mental illness. And it's so inventive that we never have a clue what might happen next.

Jerry (Reynolds) is a tormented young man trying to get on with life after his release from a psych ward. With a helpful therapist (Weaver) and a stable job in a bathtub factory, Jerry has his eye on Fiona (Arterton) in accounting, oblivious to the fact that it's her colleague Lisa (Kendrick) who really likes him. But no one knows that Jerry has gone off his meds, which means that he's hearing the voices of his loveable dog Bosco and bitter cat Mr Whiskers. And what they are asking him to do is pretty unthinkable.

This witty, full-on film touches on so many sub-genres that it's impossible to guess what the next scene will bring. Is this a black comedy about a serial killer? A sharp tragedy about a guy who's criminally insane? A creepy fable about a murderer's inner turmoil? The wickedly artful way Satrapi and Perry layer in these ideas makes the film far more involving than it should be, and also far scarier than expected for a comedy.

Reynolds is hilarious in the central role (he also provides the voices in his head, including Mr Whiskers' killer Scottish brogue). His earnestly hopeful performance provides an unusually emotive perspective for the mad violent chaos of the plot. This is a seriously complex exploration of how it feels to be mentally ill, offering a glimpse into how senses and memories are dulled by prescribed drugs. This allows the cast to cleverly bridge between the comedy, suspense, romance and violence.

Satrapi's balancing act here is seriously impressive, maintaining the comedy while stirring in constant horror touches. She brings in imagery from old-school scary movies and fairy tales, mixing the ghastly with the surreally beautiful. And the production design echoes this with its dense colours and textures that shift depending on whose eyes we're looking through. So even if performances are a bit broad and uneven, the film exerts a strong grip on the audience, provoking laughter and nervous horror in all the wrong places.

cert 15 themes, language, strong violence 27.Apr.14 slf

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Voices Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall