The Post-TIFF Recap+Review: The Voices



What was the last movie starring Ryan Reynolds that you enjoyed?

For me, its been a while.  The ProposalDefinitely, Maybe. Just Friends. I obviously have an interest in romantic-comedies, but I also just haven’t enjoyed some his films in the last few years. That being said, Ryan was still a major factor in my last-minute decision to join the rush line for The Voices at TIFF 14′. I didn’t really know much about the film outside of the synopsis and cast, but upon seeing it, I’m really glad I ended up at the screening.

The Voices is a psycho-thriller meets comedy meets drama that at one point meets musical. In the middle of this intersection is Jerry (Reynolds), a lonely, slightly socially awkward but optimistic blue collar employee at Milton Faucet and Fixture. Jerry is also mentally ill; his pets (also voiced by Reynolds), a cat named Mr.Whiskers, and his dog, Bosco, talk to him every night (when he’s not taking his medication.) On a stormy night, Jerry has a run-in with his corporate crush Fiona (Gemma Arterton, Clash of the Titans, Quantam of Solace), an encounter that results in Jerry accidentally stabbing her, and then, because of the voices around him, purposely killing her. This incident sets Jerry off on a path that causes him to stop taking his medication, which implicates his sessions with Dr.Warren (played by Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings PlaybookMagic in the Moonlight) and forces him to live in an alternative world where his actions aren’t perceived to be quite as gruesome as what the audience sees.

This is some pretty heavy subject matter but the film never truly sways towards direct commentary on mental health. Any insights gained underlie Jerry’s characterization, but director Marjani Satrapi (Persepolis) doesn’t take those opportunities to address the stigma attached to mental health. She instead offsets the issue with views of Jerry’s life post-murder, which includes a relationship with coworker Lisa (Anna Kendrick, The Last Five YearsUp in the Air) and the on-going banter between Mr.Whiskers and Bosco. If the cat isn’t taunting Jerry’s attempts to restrain his violent tendencies, then the dog is trying to be his best friend and convince him to continue on a moral path. The comedic aspect is balanced really well with the Jerry’s ongoing conflicts that are constantly teetering on the brink of complete self-destruction. Satrapi’s ability to handle this level of genre-meshing results in something brilliantly weird and creatively intriguing.

This film is a great vessel for Reynolds,  who amidst the gore, talking dead people and sassy animals doesn’t exactly ground the movie, but  is a dynamic focal point that you want to hinge onto for the entire story. Even though his character becomes a murderer, he’s kind of a mix of sadistic, unfortunate and humorous which is a winning combination in this movie. Reynolds boyish charms and knack for off-beat comedy makes this colourful and disturbing off-kilter experience totally worth a view (maybe two, in case you need to process it.) Hopefully it marks the a start of a new chapter in his career. 

The Voices is one of those films that you’re either completely on board with or you don’t get into it at all. The audience at the TIFF screening I attended seemed to be really enthusiastic about it (to the point where there were far too many similar questions, so clearly no one was listening to the others.) Here are a few bits from that session which featured Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick and Marjane Satrapi.

  • This is the first time Satrapi worked with a script that was not hers, but by reading in between the lines, she enjoyed how messed up it really was and that she couldn’t exactly classify it as either a comedy or a tragedy either.
  • Ryan didn’t approach the comedy any differently than other films
  • Ryan likened seeing himself on screen killing other people to hearing himself on a voicemail, but he loved the character
  • Anna watched her character in the film and just kept saying to herself, “Run, idiot!”
  • They tried to reflect Jerry’s character in the aesthetic of the film; Satrapi specifically mentioned Jerry’s comfortable apartment, and how his kitchen was rigid and stuck
  • Ryan does not get creeped out by his films
  • He also did not research mental illness but tapped into the character’s loneliness
  • Anna really loved Persepolis and was excited to work with this script and the chance to be in Satrapi’s film. She specifically enjoyed filming the end sequence.
  • It was a 33 day shoot
  • Ryan was terrified by singing
  • He recognizes that he’s done good and bad films, but believes he’s getting better at distinguishing between them. He considers this the role of a life time.

The Voices will release on VOD this Friday across North America.


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