Normally a film with Ryan Reynolds and Gemma Arterton as the top-billed actors would say to me this is either going to be a really bad rom-com type affair or some kind of ‘frat film’ or something along those lines.
While I was in work the other day, Radio One had Gemma Arterton on speaking about a new film she was in, plugging away for it. I was only half-listening. Then I heard the human hairspray bottle that is Nick Grimshaw talk about how it left him feeling a little queasy and my interest was piqued. The film is called The Voices. It was on the Hollywood Blacklist in 2009: a list of the best unmade films of the year. Unmade because the subject matter is too controversial or shocking or weird.
The Voices is definitely weird. Ryan Reynolds plays a man, Jerry, who hears voices. He talks to his cat and dog, and they talk back to him. It starts off as a normal rom-com would. He plays the likeable man who works in the lowly shipping department of a company and Arterton is one of the shiny women in payroll, Fiona. He falls in love with her and she has no interest in him. He takes dating advice from his pets. Strange, funny and harmless.
The two arrange a date one night and she stands him up. This is where it goes completely sideways. In a series of unfortunate events, he winds up accidentally killing her. His pets, Mr Whiskers the cat and Bosco the dog, convince him he has to get rid of the body, which he does by chopping it up in his home and keeping her head in the fridge. A head that subsequently starts talking to him. I will not give any more away here.
It gets very dark and very silly very brilliantly and quickly. It is a proper, old-school Lionsgate film, before they started making stuff like Bratz and serious films. It’s twisted and light and deep and really makes you feel for Jerry, who turns into a serial killer of sorts. And in the last sequence, it has Jesus driving a bright pink cherry-picker. What more could you ask for?
It is a film that had to be made. Reynolds is superb. He voices the Mr Whiskers and Bosco too, something which happened after he convinced the director not to hire voice actors. He thought their voices should be variations of his own as they are voices in his character’s head. Such a clever move. We really do hope he carries on making films like this.
Our hats are also off to the writer, Michael R Perry, and the director, Marjane Satrapi. This is the kind of thing I wish I could write. Scrap what I just said, I hate Perry. He is far too good!
Here is a poem.
Why in a world filled with
hot geyser springs and
the Northern Lights
and the pyramids
and the grand canyon
ancient trees, deep see fish,
sweeping, glittering tundras,
rainforests, deserts, endless chasms,
Pompeii, The Nile,
Angel Falls, Westminster Cathedral,
and I could go on and on and on,
in a world where Everest has been climbed,
we have gone to the moon, created life,
would you be impressed by a phone case
that has floating glitter when you turn it
Take that phone case,
pierce a small hole in the side and drain it
of the water and the glitter.
You are as empty as that phone case.
You have the wonder and curiosity
of a cheap plastic snow globe.