Sundance 2014: The Voices reaction
Ryan Reynolds, it’s probably fair to say, hasn’t had the luckiest of mainstream successes.
Green Lantern, The Change-Up, and R.I.P.D have all failed to set the box office alight, so it’s refreshing to see him go back to the indie pool that’s served him so well, at least artistically if not necessarily fiscally.
Yet while The Voices has an undeniably killer high concept (reluctant schizophrenic serial killer takes advice from his talking cat and dog, bloodiness ensues), the end result is a tonal mess that never quite finds its feet.
Director Marjane Satrapi has form with visionary, stylised works (she adapted her own comic Persepolis into the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated animation of the same name back in 2007), and while The Voices begins boldly, it ends up unravelling as quickly and messily as Reynolds’ morally conflicted, stab-merry factory worker.
It’s not a total wash though, and the parts are undeniably more interesting than the sum – when it’s funny, it’s very funny, with bleak and black chuckles mined from Jerry’s initially accidental butcherings. And the way that Satrapi emphasises the difference between Jerry’s med-free and mentally ill, but happy world (all bright primary colours, cleanliness and internal monologue singalongs) and the reality (grey bleakness, filth and darkness) is at least initially interesting.
But as the story progresses, the film wanders, without a tight or affecting narrative point, and a tone that abruptly switches between cheerily dark humour, and intense, disturbing drama-horror.
Like Buried, Adventureland, and The Nines, The Voices is a fascinating and bold choice, but unlike those, The Voices is likely to go down as a brave failure.