Ryan Reynolds gets a fair bit of flak from the online community, which much of it is undeserved. Yes, it is fair to say his turn in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was less than stellar, and Green Lantern missed the mark, but let’s not forget his intense performance in Buried, or indie films such as The Nines. Whilst it seems that blockbuster roles don’t quite work out for the actor (with the exception of rom – com outings), you can’t deny that he has quite a range when it comes to the smaller roles. So, when you hear that he is going to play a mentally unstable serial killer in a charmingly twisted black comedy, it is quite easy to get excited.
The Voices starts off quite pleasantly as we are introduced to Reynolds’ Jerry, a socially awkward but loveable worker at a bathtub company in a small backwater town. Living in a flat over a bowling alley with his two pets, a cat named Mr Whiskers and a dog named Bosco, he pines over one of his co-workers (Gemma Arterton as Fiona). However Jerry also hears voices, generally from his pets. Mr Whiskers is found mouthed and abusive, belittling him and encouraging Jerry to do bad things whilst Bosco is the calming influence telling him how great he is and how much he matters to the world. You see Jerry has a history of mental health issues, as did his mother before him, and he’s recently stopped taking his medication which has led to the voices and hallucinations taking over. The results of the actions prove to be deadly.
Reynolds is immensely likeable throughout the film, even when at his most deranged moments, and despite his actions you can’t help but sympathise with him. Also providing the voices for the animals who speak to him (including a deer which runs into his truck), the result is a genuine impression that Jerry is arguing with various aspects of his own personality, and drastically trying to make sense of everything. All of this is aided by some marvellous visual choices and direction. Jerry’s flat looks like the all American dream, until we get glimpses of what it looks like in reality rather that through Jerry’s eyes.
Support casting from the likes of Anna Kendrick as Lisa, another co-worker who has a crush on Jerry, help round out the proceedings, as does a well chosen soundtrack which includes a turn by an Elvis impersonator, and a song and dance number over the end credits. The end result is a film that treads the line carefully to retain just the right balance of humour, drama, and dread to work, and shows once more how Reynolds is much more than ‘that Van Wilder guy’.