Capsule Review Comedy

TIFF Capsule Review: The Voices

September 12, 2014Ben MK

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The truth about cats and dogs...

Not to be mistaken for the televised singing competition The Voice, The Voices is the fourth film from Marjane Satrapi, whose 2007 directorial debut — the quirky, animated autobiography, Persepolis — earned an Oscar nod for Best Animated Feature. Quirky is just the tip of the iceberg, however, when it comes to this tale, which sees Ryan Reynolds starring as a well-meaning factory worker named Jerry Hickfang, a man guided by voices — imaginary voices that compel him to commit some very real (and extremely horrendous) acts.


It all begins with Jerry's crush on Fiona (Gemma Arterton), an accounting temp at Milton Fixtures and Faucets International, where they both work. But Fiona's a hoity-toity Brit and Jerry's a Yank who toils away in the packing department, so any romance between the two of them has some serious obstacles to overcome. Enter Lisa (Anna Kendrick), Jerry's more attainable, down-to-earth co-worker, who sees in him something Fiona doesn't. Unbeknownst to her, though, part of Jerry's appeal — his aura of mystery — has to do with the unsolicited advice his dog, Bosco, and his cat, Mr. Whiskers, offer him in his off-hours; and what begins as a budding love affair quickly turns nightmarish.

Wavering between bouts of candy-colored surrealism and macabre ghoulishness, the story — a hybrid blending humor with the subject matter of movies like Seven (plus a little song-and-dance thrown in for good measure) — is unconventional, to say the least. But the mash-up works, thanks to Reynolds, whose portrayal of its psychologically fragile and emotionally damaged protagonist — not to mention the voices in his head — is as unnerving as it is amusing. If this is his way of atoning for movies like R.I.P.D. and Green Lantern, then consider the apology accepted.  Ben Mk

The Voices receives its Canadian premiere as part of TIFF 2014's Vanguard programme and is currently scheduled for a 2015 release by Remstar Films. Photo credit: Remstar Films.

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