Monday, 28 March 2016

The Voices (4 Stars)

This is an underappreciated 2014 film starring Ryan Reynolds as Jerry Hickfang, a man who works packing goods in a factory in a small American town. The town is called Milton, but you won't be able to locate it in America by identifying landmarks, because it was filmed entirely in Germany. That's how the international film market works.

Jerry is a man who is mentally unhinged after killing his mother as a child. His mother wanted to commit suicide, so he helped her by cutting her head off. I suppose he meant well. Now that he's in his mid thirties he lives in a closed down bowling alley that used to belong to his parents. He lives with his dog and his cat, that he calls Bosco and Mr. Whiskers. Jerry's problem is that he hears voices. Bosco and Mr. Whiskers talk to him. They give contradictory viewpoints. Bosco tells him to do good, Mr. Whiskers tells him to do evil. This confuses Jerry, so he keeps to a middle path.

Jerry is socially awkward, but at least he has good lucks, so the girls in his factory want to date him. His first date with Fiona (Gemma Arterton) turns out badly. He accidentally kills her after his car breaks down. He's afraid that he'll be arrested for murder, so he asks his pets for advice. Mr. Whiskers suggests a cover up, so he chops Fiona's body into small pieces which he puts into plastic containers. Perfect dog food! He keeps Fiona's head in his fridge, because he likes the way she looks.

Things don't stop there. Fiona talks to him and says she's lonely by herself in the fridge, so she asks him to kill someone else to get her a companion. And the bodies start piling up.....

The film is a comedy, in case you couldn't guess. The viewer is invited to have sympathy with Jerry. After all, he isn't a bad person, he's only killing because the voices make him do it. Even Jesus forgives him.

I can't help feeling that Ryan Reynolds will one day be recognised as a successor to Robin Williams. As well as being a skilled comedic actor, he can do voices that are both realistic and amusing, which was one of Robin Williams' greatest skills. In the film Ryan does the voices for both of his pets, which is somehow appropriate.

Gemma Arterton dazzles as Fiona, whether she's a complete person or only a talking head. She's one of England's best actresses.

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