THE VOICES

OopsWeird & wonderful Black Comedy directed by Marjane Satrapi. (JLH: 4/5)

Not yet seen by Rich.

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Watching The Voices is like walking a tightrope, which director Marjane Satrapi pulls off brilliantly. This odd, hard-to-describe film is a touching tour de force – even when you’re laughing through your tears.

The story begins in the seemingly perfect world of “Jerry,” (Ryan Reynolds) a normal, handsome guy working at a loading dock of a plumbing supply factory. But soon enough, his almost-perfect circumstances at work are a little too good to be true. In his world, boxes are cotton-candy pink and everyone is cheery, happy, and friendly. For Jerry, everything is easy – at least on the surface.

It turns out that Jerry is deeply disturbed. After the abandonment of his father and death of his schizophrenic mother, 12-year-old Jerry is held at a psychiatric facility for the next two decades. When he’s released, he is assigned a psychiatrist from the Department of Corrections “Dr. Warren” (Jacki Weaver) who takes much too long to notice he’s gone off his medications. Jerry slides from a vaguely hallucinogenic state of a rose-colored world to a deeply hallucinogenic state – thinking his pets “Mr. Whiskers” and “Bosco” are talking to him. In his foggy state, Jerry falls in love with his co-workers, beautiful Brit “Fiona” (Gemma Arterton) and is adored by empathetic “Lisa” (Anna Kendrick). But his candy-colored world is interrupted when he accidentally kills a deer, flies off the handles, and is woken up to the realities of his life.

Although the film is very funny, it has a slightly poignant side as the women get drawn into Jerry’s spiral of mental deterioration. It’s funny until it’s not, done with a very light touch. It shows Jerry’s world as everything seems to be on the edge of normal. As Jerry gets more and more out of balance, so does the feeling of trepidation that bad things are going to happen, which indeed they do.

There’s a tender and beautiful last scene, including a hilarious dance number where Jerry is dancing with Jesus. Although Michael R. Perry’s screenplay sounds like it should be a total disaster, the film holds your interest and draws you into Jerry’s world. Marjane Satrapi finds the right mix of tones and the fine line to visualize what is inside Jerry’s head and what is reality. As a psychological portrait, The Voices is well-done and well-motivated.

AtHomeTop Photo: Misfit “Jerry Hickfang” (Ryan Reynolds) inadvertently commits his first murder…

Bottom Photo: Jerry at home–seeking consolation from his friends Bosco, Fiona & Mr. Whiskers.

Photo Credits: Reiner Bajo/Lionsgate

Q: Does The Voices pass the Bechdel Test?

Technically… yes. Fiona (Gemma Arterton), Lisa (Anna Kendrick), & Alison (Ella Smith) all work together in the Accounting Department, and they do a bit of partying together too. Arterton & Kendrick even have a cute scene together in a Karaoke Bar.

But this is a stretch. Female interactions are minimal in The Voices. Almost everything on screen is from Jerry’s POV.

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