The Voices

Year: 2014
Production Co: 1984 Private Defense Contractors
Director: Marjane Satrapi
Writer: Michael R Perry
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, Jackie Weaver

This is the kind of thing Ryan Reynolds is great at. Despite his cast-iron cheekbones, killer smile and admirable abs, he disappears into the wallpaper of action adventure films like Green Lantern and The X-Men movies (prediction: the Deadpool movie will suck).

He's best as both a comic and a dramatic actor, often when the two genres meet. Look instead for his work in The Nines, Smokin' Aces, The Proposal and The Change-Up – none of them particularly brilliant movies, but all of them giving him the perfect platform to use that winning smile, sense of humour and sense of vulnerability to grab you and not let go.

In this darkest of black comedies he plays Jerry, a smalltown factory worker who's terminal niceness betrays a dark, possibly violent past we only see hints of when he visits his therapist (Jacki Weaver).

Jerry has his eye on Fiona, the hot British girl who works in accounts, and with the help of his pets Mr Whiskers and Bosco the dog, he tries to think of the best way to ask her out.

Rather than just talk to his pets, Jerry is able to hear them talk back (both voiced by Reynolds as well), the first obvious clue about his state of mind. Mr Whiskers is a grumpy, profane Scot and pure id, goading Jerry to stop taking his pills and follow his dark instincts. Bosco is a southern-fried down-home boy trying to talk reason to his increasingly unhinged master.

Jerry finally makes a date with Fiona but she stands him up. Even when he comes across her broken down in the rainstorm later that night, he offers to drive her home like a perfect gentleman. But something has snapped in Jerry.

After the pair run into a deer on the dark, lonely road, Jerry obeys its (spoken) wish to put it out of its misery, hacking its throat out with his enormous hunting knife. Fiona freaks out and runs into the forest and when Jerry chases her, knife in hand, he's sure he's trying to calm her down. But when he slips and stabs her to death, it starts him on a dark new path.

As his animals fight for control of Jerry's soul, opportunities for more murders pile up all around him, like Fiona's cute co-worker Lisa (Anna Kendrick) holding a flame for Jerry and growing closer to him albeit with no idea what she's getting into.

But as the people at work get increasingly worried for the missing Fiona, his therapist starts backing him into a corner and Mr Whiskers' influence grows even more forceful, Jerry has more trouble than ever holding it together, which only makes things more dangerous for everyone around him.

Reynolds gives one of the performances of his career as Jerry. A painfully nice nerd on the surface, he's a roiling mass of anger and murder underneath that's barely glimpsed throughout the whole film but still threatens to burst forth at any moment.

Not everything going on around him is as well constructed as it could be, and the moments of comedy and terror don't always gel, but it's an effective black comedy where extreme visuals as well as gags will make you laugh out loud.

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