The Voices

Ryan Reynolds is a mentally ill bath tub manufacturer who has a crush on one of his co-workers (Gemma Arterton), however when he accidentally kills her his life follows down a twisted trajectory aided by his bloodthirsty pet cat (also Reynolds).

The Voices could probably be correctly described as one of those “love it or hate it” movies. And I actually both love and hate The Voices. There are moments I think are genuinely funny and dark, but there are also moments I found really quite offensive.

So let’s start with the good parts. There are a number of little moments in the film where everything aligns perfectly: the quirkiness, the darkness, the slapstick all come together to produce a genuine piece of comic brilliance. And actually the whole premise behind severed heads talking to you is a very funny idea for a film. I thought the soundtrack was on point, this mix of atmospheric mood music and strange little songs that describe that particular point in the film – in particular a music number at the very end which may be the funniest part of the film – . And generally I applaud the film-makers for making the film they wanted to make, because it doesn’t feel like they held back at all, and I respect that.

However, I do find the portrayal of mental illness problematic. I don’t actually think they needed to label Reynolds condition, and it would have been a much better movie in my opinion if he’d just been a guy who talks to his pets and the severed heads of the people he kills. And it also felt like they were trying to almost mental illness box tick in a way, giving Reynolds’ character all these different traits we usually associate with various known mental illnesses. For instance, he talk in a way that stereotypically you would associate to someone on the autistic spectrum, in one scene he appears to have OCD, he shows some evidence of schizophrenia, he shows signs of having a split personality. And all this would be ok, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s all played for laughs. This isn’t an in depth look at mental illness, or the mind of a serial killer. This is a film that at times is poking fun at disabled people and that really isn’t on.

Overall, as I’ve said had they’ve left out the mental illness ties, and not done the strange box ticking thing they did with Reynolds character. This film would have been all the better. Actually as it turns out Gemma Arterton manages to steal the film anyway, having all the best lines and not playing a horribly offensive character. Having said all that, I was never bored and I did laugh. I kind of went between feeling really uncomfortable to belly laughing every other minute.

4/10

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