Monday, 27 July 2015

The Voices

Rom-com guys always try and reinvent themselves. It has worked before for many actors out there, what with Matthew McConaughey going from a generic shirtless handsome dude to an Oscar winning actor that is currently one of Hollywood's best talents. It worked for him. Hell, it also worked for Bradley Cooper, Channing Tatum and Ben Stiller, all of which have given us tremendous work since their very cardboard acting origins. Ryan Reynolds has been trying to do this on and off for the past few years, but every time he pulls himself out of the rom-com quagmire, he just flops right back in. This latest film is not a rom-com, but though he's tried to distance himself from the genre quite a bit before, this is just going to extremes. Also, it's kinda shit.

Directed Marjane Satrapi and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes The Voices, a film that thinks it's smart, unique and interesting, but ends up being neither of those things. The Voices centres around Jerry Hickfang, a nice dude who works in a factory in a small town. He's nice to his co-workers, his boss and pretty much everyone loves him. That might be down to the fact that he's played by Ryan Reynolds, but either way, he's everyone's favourite quirky dude. At home he has a dog and cat, both of which talk to him. Alas, Jerry isn't right in the head due to some trauma in his past, and this is only amplified by the fact that he doesn't take his medication. Jerry's life takes a bad turn when, after hitting a deer on the road alongside his drunken and very British co-worker Fiona, Jerry “accidentally” stabs her. Laying there in the woods suffering from a stab wound, Jerry puts her out of her misery by stabbing her a good few times. He then chops her up and keeps her head in his fridge. Her severed head also talks to him, by the way. Between Fiona's head, his cat and dog telling him to do different things, Jerry is torn apart between killing again and handing himself in.

The Voices doesn't know what it wants to be. On one hand it's a bit of a quirky comedy, while on the other it's a very dark and violent horror. If you check out its Wikipedia page it's billed as a “psychological horror comedy”. I guess you could call it a dark comedy too, but to be perfectly honest, the light and dark sides to The Voices just don't mesh together at all. Seriously. What's even worse is the fact that the funny and light parts just aren't, well, funny. Without successful light element to The Voices, it ends up coming across as far too bleak for its own good. It tries to make itself some kind of quirky indie comedy, but fails to offer anything but a disturbing premise and a failed opportunity. You know, that kind of quirky comedy, the one that's filled with bright colours, bizarre nonsensical moments, random camera shots, and pseudo-religious imagery that will have certain viewers relentlessly tipping their fedoras.

The script is also pretty shite too, with a few lines coming across as genuinely cringey. Just after Jerry kills Fiona, his cat is trying to convince him that murder is something natural, and it utters the line, “the only time I feel truly alive is when I'm killing”. I cringed hard at this, as if I was reading back across old forum posts I made back in 2002, or listening to an especially edgy track by Linkin Park. The film is dotted with crap like this, and considering The Voices is directed by Marjane Satrapi (creator of the wonderful Persepolis) and written by Michael R. Perry (writer on Millennium and American Gothic), it's just not that good at all. Though Ryan Reynolds is admittedly fine as Jerry, he just doesn't get chance to shine and break out from his humble rom-com beginnings like he did with 2010's excellent Buried. The Voices tries too hard to shed his image as a rom-com guy and fails miserably.

Overall I didn't like The Voices. I'm sure plenty of people will enjoy it though. I'm sure those people will break down all the hokey abstract imagery in the film, and ultimately come to the opinion that it's some kind of masterpiece. The big kicker for me came at the end (light spoiler to follow!) when Jerry starts to dance with his victims alongside Jesus Christ. It's at this point that I groaned and rolled my eyes, fully aware that right now some dude out there is seeing this crap as high art, while his sips his imported German beer from an old mason jar. That's not me. I like tea. I like tea and good films. The Voices is not a good film.

The Voices is up its own arse and gets a 1/5.


Denis Murphy

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