Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Film Review: The Voices (2014)

The Voices (Review)
United States/Germany/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"It has shades of morbid humor throughout the film, but the film often feels more like a poignant drama."

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a regularly jovial man leading a normal life working at a bathtub factory in a small town... except he also hears voices coming from his pets.

The Voice is a poignant black comedy. The film follows Jerry, who seems like an upbeat guy. Jerry, however, also talks to his pets; Bosco, his slothful but positive dog, and Mr. Whiskers, his cynical and violent cat. (Good and evil, right?) Although he regularly visits his psychiatrist, Jerry refuses to take medicine. After a string of unfortunate events, he accidentally kills someone. With murder on his conscience, he begins to question his motives: Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Bosco would say he's good, that cynical Mr. Whiskers would persuade him to do worse. Jerry soon finds he can't stop killing because of the voices in his head. Although it has well-developed characters and themes, the plot is rather simple. Even at its short runtime, it feels a tad stretched. The film leads to a great ending, though.

The Voices is a great movie. First and foremost, though, don't be fooled by the trailer. This isn't a raucous black comedy with offensive humor. It has shades of morbid humor throughout the film, but the film often feels more like a poignant drama. The drama and comedy, fortunately, blend well together. Jerry is a well-thought out character with multiple layers. He's a tormented character trying to get over something horrible and it really hits home. Mr. Whiskers will be there to slap you with some black humor, but the core of the film is a drama about mental illness. It's a film that can actually make you laugh and cry. If it doesn't quite achieve the latter for you, you'll at least feel really bad for the guy. The only issues I had were with the pacing and bloating — nothing significant, really.

Ryan Reynolds delivers a great performance. He's as charming as ever, but he's also very effective. It's not all charisma carrying the performance. He's performs the animal voiceovers well, too. The supporting cast is strong. The film looks great and the music choice was splendid. The visuals, particularly the use of editing to create a surreal effect, were also great. The film is written by Michael R. Perry and directed by Marjane Satrapi. The writing is great in creating a likeable, troubled character. The direction is also great in creating a disturbed world. Thanks to the combination, you really feel like you're in Jerry's head. It's a great effect to leave a lasting impression. It does feel a bit long for what the actual narrative offers, but the writing and direction are otherwise strong.

Overall, The Voices is a great black comedy/drama. I watched the trailer, which makes this film look like a traditional comedy. Trust me, it's a funny film, but it also manages to become much more than that. It's a very effective tale of mental illness. Laugh, cry, enjoy.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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