Some movies are worth watching just to see your friends’ reactions. Hence, when I pitched Marjane Satrapi’s The Voices to my friends, I made it seem like a romcom starring Ryan Reynolds and Anna Kendrick. While comedy and romance are in the bones of this film, anyone familiar with Satrapi’s animated masterpiece Persepolis will be aware that the recipe of her comedy is spiked with bitterness… venom even. The Voices is one of the year’s strangest movies, dark and humorous, designed for those with a twisted funny bone.
The New Boy and the Ladies
Jerry (Reynolds) is the newbie in the bathroom ceramics factory, eager to impress the office hottie Fiona (Gemma Arterton). He invites her out on a date, which goes disastrously wrong after she stands him up. Jerry relies on his dog, Bosco, and cat, Mr. Whiskers, as his personal advisors, his pets working opposing sides of his personality as superego and id. Meanwhile, Lisa (Kendrick), in the same office, has set her sights on her handsome coworker Jerry. Where will this love triangle lead us?
Well, to very dark places. Did I neglect to mention that Jerry has some psychological issues? I will not plot-spoil and explain how these problems manifest themselves. Suffice to say from the title, voices are involved. One would surmise that Jerry may be a Sybil-type multiple personality disorder sufferer, but the movies leaves his diagnosis more open, with symptoms of bipolar disorder (in manic states) and possibly schizophrenia also present. Is this a realistic depiction of mental health? Not in your life. This is pure and simple (well, actually, impure and complicated) fun that is exaggerated for comic effect.
If You Can Love Those That Hate You, Then You’ve Got a Big Heart
If The Voices does have a serious side, perhaps it is in the exercise of sympathy. Can we like Jerry despite his problems? Can we identify with a bad man? Well, you may or may have not heard of the aesthetic theory of immoralism, which argues that morally deficient characters can be ethically beneficial to viewers because such characters can excite compassion even in the most extreme, problematic cases. If any film makes a case for such a theory, then The Voices does so; Reynolds charm and comedic talent presents Jerry as a likable boy doing unsightly things. What a display from Reynolds, deftly supported by the rest of the cast.
A Rare Enjoyment for the Twisted
My friends were a little annoyed with me for making them watch The Voices. It is not the film for a popular audience and is of the kind that rarely shows in Cebuano cinemas. I think the star power probably allowed the film to be picked up by local theatre chains, and I am glad we got to see it. If comedy of a darker shade gets you giggling as it does me, then this is a rare treat you should not miss.
The Voices is showing this weekend June 5-7, 2015 in Ayala Cinemas Cebu.