REVIEW: The Voices

9 02 2015

The VoicesThe Voices” takes a protagonist plagued by mental illness, as in “Silver Linings Playbook,” and combines him with the unsuspecting, mild-mannered murderer like in “Bernie.”  The film’s Jerry, as played by Ryan Reynolds, is an outwardly cheery factory worker whose schizophrenia makes him subject to violent impulses.  He can mostly suppress these urges, yet the invented voices of his cat and dog begin to lure him into violence against the women of his company’s accounting department.

As he knocks off characters played by Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick, director Marjane Sartrapi aims for a tone of black comedy that never really sticks.  Sartrapi showed with her Oscar-nominated “Persepolis” that she can make a character with only two dimensions feel as whole as any actual human, so the film’s lack of depth feels especially disappointing.  She does not deserve all the blame, though; Michael R. Perry’s rather bland, unfunny script does not set the stage for her and the cast to succeed.

Not to mention, the humor of “The Voices” also falls victim to forces outside the movie.  Sartrapi obviously does not condone murder, but placing a character who commits them at the center of a story does make identification and sympathy much simpler.  By making Jerry the protagonist, the film does glorify his exploits to some small extent.  In a time where mentally disturbed people come unhinged and tear holes in communities like Aurora and Newtown, serving as a party to their crimes just feels inappropriate.  Laughing at them seemed downright wrong.  C+2stars

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