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The Voices (2014)

Written by Michael R. Perry Directed by Marjane Satrapi

We begin on a beautiful morning in the town of Milton, venturing into the Fixture & Faucet International plant to find Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) along with several other employees settling into their day. Though we catch word of some type of involvement with a psychiatrist, Jerry’s boss Dennis (Paul Chahidi) quickly changes the subject to the real matter at hand. Asking for help with the upcoming company party and whether Jerry could set up the sound system to which he happily agrees. Later exchanging in what he believes to be flirtatious behavior, he musters enough courage to ask office hottie Fiona (Gemma Arterton) if she’d like to go out Friday accompanied by a not so overwhelming yes.

Peeking into the relationship between him and Dr. Warren (Jacki Weaver), otherwise normal though we’re privy to him lying about his medication. Something that’s skirted around until the very end of the film: recklessness on her part as a professional or is he just that good? Any time spent at home with his pets Bosco (dog) and Mr. Whiskers (cat; both voiced by Reynolds) show a clear divide of when he’s off his medication verses on. As well accompanied by a stream of light seemingly hanging over him when off as opposed to the harsh tones of reality that attempt to seep in when convinced to take the medication (that one time). He also experiences spastic fits of rage of which he tries to keep in tact with his compulsions; a variety of arrangements set up throughout his place, merely given glimpses of such. Though they never necessarily give anything away, concerning any other tendencies he may have, there’s just something that doesn’t entirely come together about his character. The first time he kills is misconstrued, having not paid enough attention to the road and involved in an accident. Following his disgruntled passenger into the woods where he falls atop her with his knife, apologizing profusely. Or is that simply the perspective we the audience are shown.

From then on derangement settles in as he’s convinced at any moment he’ll be found out. Doused in his own reality, the voices convince him that the first victim needed a friend, despite work beginning to catch on to the missing co-worker. Fixating on Lisa (Anna Kendrick) who had initially shown interest in him, the two go out for a night at the bar. Though they make it back to her place it’s not without a moment of hesitation of his part as he contemplates his next move. Torn between a past too difficult to comprehend and someone who seemed to genuinely care. It’s only after the two become better acquainted that he’s forced to make the difficult decision of adding a friend (or two) to his most recent collection. Simply at his wit’s end, he kidnaps his psychiatrist for a little road therapy, inquiring about God and his ability to be “all-knowing.” The argument of nature vs. nurture obviously bearing a heavy tone on the film, presenting many a good arguing points of an already hot discussion. However the two make it back to Jerry’s, an abandoned bowling alley where he lived atop, Police well on their way after a couple of co-workers went looking for the three missing woman and found something outside their realm entirely. Forced to assume he was armed and dangerous Jerry attempts to escape and realizes, there is no happy ending. It’d simply be best to let the fire put him to sleep as the area is soon engulfed in flames.

Having a beautifully written script is nothing without the Actors able to portray those words to their full extent. Ryan Reynold’s performance simply, stunning. While receiving fragments into the characters past, never giving away too much, your heart breaks for what he’s had to endure. However- it’s not to negate the even worse things that have transpired due to such events that took place. Though I feel the need to include that while I missed the Anna Kendrick train that seemed to board almost eight years back, I can now say that I’ve really enjoyed her in something. Playing Lisa (Kendri) who was also awkward in her own way, finding Jerry attractive and periodically asking him to join in on their outings with other co-workers. Getting so close that she’s even able to see a side of him perhaps no one else ever could or would have known. Everything unfolding too quickly as any luck had runs out and reality is confronted, the characters eventually realizing the few options left. Also hoping that the role of Fiona was meant to be a bit unlikable, at least for the unintentional ways in which she was rude to Jerry, who obviously had a crush on her. Favoring more so the “talking head” aspect to Arterton’s character as ‘they’ presumable become the only friends Jerry’s ever had.

Unfortunately, this will not be a movie for the masses. Delving into matters of the mind creates an immediate barrier because most movie goers are interested in merely being entertained. Anything extra may come off misunderstood or all together ignored. Which is either a testament to how smart a script is or sadly, how ho-hum the average audience member can be. Most people will see Ryan Reynolds or Anna Kendrick attached and be as far that they think into seeing this film. Something both Actors sought to be apart of due to favoring Marjane Satrapi‘s previous project, Persepolis. The director stating her interest lay with how likable the protagonist was, flirting with antagonist mannerisms, something she really wanted portrayed through the film. Needing that to carry over if attempting to handle the type of content within the script. Which again, Reynolds mastered. Holding onto a boyish charm that carries into adulthood as a cloaking device for the reality that his pills had suppressed, hence the lack of urgency in regards to taking them. Does that make his actions excused? Of course not. It merely poses a question, or two or several. Though the film doesn’t go so far as to solely be Horror, though some ‘appalling’ images are sporadically displayed. It’s often pitted with a dark humor, though certainly not strictly comedy. What’s left is an extremely thought out and poignant depiction of what living with a mental illness could be like versus the stigma attached to most illnesses.