Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a little off, but he does his best. He has found steady employment at an appliance factory, he regularly sees his therapist (Jacki Weaver) and he is in love with his co-worker Fiona (Gemma Arterton). So, how much can it really matter that his dog Bosco (Ryan Reynolds) and his cat Mr. Whiskers (Ryan Reynolds) talk to him? When things start to go very wrong for Jerry and everybody in his life, it turns out, it matters quite a bit.
I was afraid that I would miss the film because it only got a very limited release and in Vienna, they didn’t seem to show it in English at all – when I stumbled over a cinema announcing it in a subbed version weeks after the start, right before the last showing (they have since started to show it again, after a two week break). This coincidence, added to my general excitement for the film, really made my expectations higher than ever – and I’m happy to say that those expectations were completely fulfilled. The Voices was really great. It’s funny (in a very macabre way), but it’s also sad and quite touching.
[Very slight spoilers]
Ryan Reynolds is not exactly known for his great acting, but every once in a while there will be a small film starring him and he manages to blow me away (like with Buried or with Paper Man). In The Voices, he not only is great as Jerry, he also voices the pets and if I hadn’t read that in the credits, I wouldn’t have believed that he has that much range, regarding acting and vocals.
Fortunately, the supporting cast has no problems keeping up with him, making the general acting level really high. You might have noticed my slight obsession with Gemma Arterton, which is only partly related to her being one of the most beautiful people on this earth and has more to do with her genuine talent. And I guess that Anna Kendrick and Jacki Weaver a fucking wonderful is no surprise to anyone. Newcomer (to me) Ella Smith fits into the cast wonderfully and I rather wished that the film would have spent a little more time with her.
But apart from that I have no complaints about the script. Perry really has a handle on both, how Jerry’s mental illness affects his life and the general atmosphere of the film that is somewhere between tragic and very funny. Whenever we get glimpses of the dreary reality behind Jerry’s psyche, you understand immediately why Jerry would not take his meds and would rather live in the bubble-gum colored world his brain conjures up. I don’t know if meds actually work that way, and while it can be harmful to portray the (side-)effects of medication like that, maybe keeping people from taking them, even though they wouldn’t experience those effects, I felt that the film never actually made it seem like it was the right choice to flee from reality. After all, things don’t go particularly well for anybody because Jerry stopped taking his meds, even if it’s understandable why he did.
Satrapi does a wonderful job as a director – especially the way she works with colors and aesthetics. It was at once colorful and outrageous, but also subtle enough that it takes you a while to realize that the world isn’t actually that great – it’s only Jerry’s perspective in what feels like one of the most realistic portrayals of that kind of mental illness that I’ve seen.
Summarizing: Loved it.