The Voices is a bewildering experience. I initially felt visually disoriented by the overwhelming pink design and costuming scheme, which starts at the point of Ryan Reynolds in pink overalls on the dvd cover and comes to engulf the town and factory with giddy effect. Throughout, Reynolds maintains a cheerfully happy upbeat smile while talking to people in a soft voice as though he were simple or medicated. This bubbly cheerful world makes you think of something like Breakfast of Champions (1999) and for a long time you wonder where Marjane Satrapi is going with it all. Through the scenes with Ryan Reynolds having conversations with his cat and dog (and performing both voices himself) the Scots-accented cat representing the voice of derision and constantly urging him to do his worst, while the dog represents sturdy reliability you are scratching your head as to what is going on. It is about the point that Reynolds brings Gemma Artertons body back home and we see him chopping her up on the kitchen bench, putting all the bits in neatly stacked containers and then placing her severed head in the fridge where she continues to have a conversation with him, that The Voices starts to hit its uniquely surreal stride.
This is a filmmaking approach that is not for everybody. On a scale of weird films, The Voices is way out there you can guarantee it is a film that is going to piss off a lot of people who casually stray in while flipping channels on cable or randomly selecting it on Netflix. You can never be certain whether the films tone is intended as satirical or deadpan until Marjane Satrapi keeps putting little WTF tweaks on it. However, then comes the brilliant reversal where Ryan Reynolds is persuaded to take his psychiatric medication and wakes up to the harsh light of reality where the house is packed to the ceiling with garbage bags, discarded tv dinner trays, dog poop on the floor, where the counter and table are stained with blood, the animals dont talk and there is a rotting head in his fridge. The ingenuity of what Marjane Satrapi is doing suddenly becomes apparent where the absurdly colourful and happy world filled with talking animals that we have been inhabiting for the first twenty or so minutes is actually the subjective one that takes place in Ryan Reynolds unbalanced head. What we have is akin to films like Roman Polanskis Repulsion (1965) and David Cronenbergs Spider (2002) that both make a virtue out of strikingly contrasting the subjective world of a mentally ill person with the outside world, leaving no clear dividing line between the two for an audience although the difference here is that Marjane Satrapi plays The Voices in a far more comical vein whereas these others do not.
The uniqueness about The Voices is that all of the elements are ones that would make for a horror film and yet in Marjane Satrapis handling become something different that avoids cliche genre cues. Although the term serial killer is bandied about, Ryan Reynolds gee-gosh expression and simple-minded outpourings of empathy for people, including those he has just killed, seems the furthest from this at most, he shares a kinship with the boyish Anthony Perkins in Psycho (1960). Satrapi serves up a delightfully whacked ending where [PLOT SPOILERS] Ryan Reynolds dies and ends up in a blank white void of the afterlife surrounded by those he has killed where they are joined by Jesus and all of them break into a song and dance number entitled Sing a Happy Song.
(Nominee for Best Original Screenplay at this sites Best of 2014 Awards).