My cat made me do it. If this sounds familiar to you, then you could do worse than watching The Voices, by Iranian director Marjane Satrapi, whom we love since Persepolis. Cat bringing is, of course, optional.
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a lovable simpleton factory worker that develops a crush on English accountant girl Fiona (Gemma Arterton). Jerry seems to be the regular guy, just a bit shy and mysterious. Apart from his visits to the psychiatrist, that is. Oh, and the fact that he can hear his pets, Bosco the dog and Mr Whiskers the cat, speak. But that’s fine, because they are good company, and taking the medication would make them go away. Bosco is a really nice being, and Mr. Whiskers… well, he is an evil, Scottish-sounding swearing cat, but mostly harmless. Everything is fine and clean and rosy – butterflies flying around people’s heads included – until Jerry invites Fiona for a date and things go awry, and we mean chopping the body and storing it in plastic recipients kind of awry. But it was an accident. Jerry is not an evil guy. Though Fiona’s head is demanding company…
The script, written by Michael R Perry, spent some time gathering dust in Hollywood, until Satrapi decided to bring it to the big screen. The power of The Voices resides solely in two things – Ryan Reynolds is the perfect mentally disturbed creature, and the contrast between the beginning of the film, when it could pass for a quirky romantic comedy, and the murder lust that follows. Bending the notions of good and evil, you may find yourself laughing at things that are actually cringe worthy. It is the perfect depiction of the inside of the head of a mentally disturbed killer, and it is a bold step up from the usual unreliable narrator trope. The contrast between Jerry in his rosy world and Jerry under medication are brilliantly achieved, and leaves no doubt to which one we prefer. Arterton may not be the best talking head, but her friend Lisa, played by Anna Kendrick, makes up for the perfect “in love with a sociopath and I can’t even tell” line.
With the best animal performances of the year – maybe of the decade! – some glorious musical numbers, a conga line, and a supremely heretic final credits scene, The Voices may not be the perfect film, but it’s just a mind stretch far from it.
The Voices will be on UK theatres from 20th March 2015