As The Voices ended, I found myself sat there with a massive grin on my face. Which was rather odd, considering that The Voices is a film about a serial killer. Jerry (played with élan by Ryan Reynolds) is, frankly, the nicest serial killer you’d never want to meet. A schizophrenic who is off his meds, Jerry lives in an apartment above an abandoned bowling alley and works in the shipping department of the town’s bath tub factory. Despite a rather dark past, Jerry’s life is now bright and breezy and he’s fallen for the English girl in billing, Fiona (a brilliant Gemma Arterton). The office party allows them to get closer and Jerry is a happy chap. Unfortunately, his cat Mr Whiskers (Reynolds providing a Scottish brogue to the cat), calls him out and tells him that his dreams will not work out as he expects. Bosco, Jerry’s boxer dog (Reynolds again), is on his side, talking up the date at the local Chinese the next night. But, Jerry is stood up (a moment providing one of the screen's great Chinese Elvis's) and things start to go wrong. Fiona, after going to the karaoke with the other girls in Billing (Anna Kendrick’s Lisa and Ella Smith’s Alison), has car trouble and is rescued by Jerry. On the drive to get a burger, stuff happens, there is a chase in the woods and Jerry “accidentally” ends up killing Fiona.
It is when Jerry does take his meds that the film starts show a deeper view of Jerry. Up until Jerry takes his pills, everything is played with a light touch, the comedy flows, even the murder and disposing of Fiona is played lightly and rather cleanly. But as the drugs kick in, we finally see the real world. This is the point where Marjane Satrapi’s film starts going through the gears very impressively. The brightness drops, the colours fade, the squalor of Jerry’s life is shown and the true effect of what he has just done are shown. The film is shot with some classic horror framing, long static shots where the action moves across the frame is reminiscent of some the classics of the genre. But the changing colour platte that cinematographer Maxime Alexandre (who has serious horror form, having shot Alexendre Aja’s visceral Haute Tension and The Hills Have Eyes) creates a perfect, rather disconcerting, juxtaposition to show what is going on in Jerry’s fractured mind. It is a beautiful looking film.
This is the where the film excels. We know we've been seeing the world from Jerry’s viewpoint, but now we see the world through his real eyes. It’s no wonder, really, why Jerry goes back off the meds. At the screening I at was at, Marjane Satrapi and Gemma Arterton did a Q&A and Satrapi stated that she was not making a film commenting on the care of schizophrenics. But I think she makes some very interesting points about the care and view of Jerry and his condition. Jerry shows up for his meetings with his court appointed shrink, Dr Warren (Jackie Weaver), she ticks the boxes on his forms, even though his answers are not exactly they should be. But as soon as he walks out the door, he’s on his own. No one see’s how he lives, sees how bad a state he really is in. Given that Jerry is really a very nice guy who just so happens to be very ill, you find yourself wishing someone was taking better care of him. And while his spree continues, you hate his actions, but find yourself still drawn to Jerry. This is testament to just how good Ryan Reynolds is in the film. He plays Jerry with remorse but a lack of control and is goaded on by the cat voice in his head. Mr Whiskers is evil, like all cats. Equal to the task of Reynolds is Arterton, playing most of the movie as just a jolly hockey sticks head who wants Jerry to bring her a friend to chat too in the fridge. Anna Kendrick does get the more emotional role, getting more time with Jerry before seeing who he really is and ending up in the fridge with Fiona.
As pitch black comedies go, they don’t come much darker than The Voices. Few, though, manage to have the amount of heart that Marjane Satrapi, her cast and crew have infused this film with and especially Reynolds' finely crafted Jerry. I said I had a massive smile on my face as the film ended and it was a truly warranted smile. While the film is certainly not for the faint of heart, it is a surprise at just how enjoyable something this dark is. The Voices will almost make you want a place in Jerry’s fridge, you’d have some fab company.
The Voices is released in the UK on the 20th March 2015. The Trailer is available HERE.