The Voices (Marjane Satrapi, 2015)

A tonally jumbled but appealingly frills-free affair, The Voices exploits troubled everyman Jerry’s (Ryan Reynolds) mental illness for effectively uncomfortable laughs. Plagued by fabled voices that have governed much of his tragic existence, Jerry finally finds tenuous but tangible stability in an accepting small town. With his eyes set on UK transplant and work crush Fiona (Gemma Arterton), a newfound love interest and regular psychotherapy checkups keep our man on the up-and-up, that is until a violent late-night mishap sends Jerry on a downward spiral of murder, self-doubt and inevitable mental collapse – all exacerbated by the urging of an ill-mannered house cat.

At the behest of Reynolds’ ceaseless charisma, The Voices thrives as the blackest of comedies thanks to a simple attention to detail in relation to its central character’s affliction. Injecting a base amount of gleeful incisiveness into the mix adds an air of reality-bending uncertainty, allowing us to tag along for the ride through Jerry’s necessitated murder spree, all the while ensuring that laughs don’t fall prey to the film’s darker tendencies. Do things get a bit heavy? Certainly and especially regarding Jerry’s comparably unstable origins story, of which questionably paints him as a victim of hereditary circumstance despite his increasingly heinous and hilariously executed (pun intended) crimes.

Summarily speaking, Marjane Satrapi’s latest endeavor is an ultimately harmless, chuckle-inducing and slick affair benchmarked by a palpably engaging mean streak. Reynolds’ turn as the lovable psychopath is an obvious highlight, as are the titular vocal impediments our leading man also lends his talents to. It employs mental illness in a way that enhances the narrative despite procedural “Hey, have you heard from and/or seen so-and-so?” murder mystery pratfalls, forcing us to hesitantly sympathize with Jerry as his situation worsens prior to its flaccid 50/50 coin toss of a resolution. As an under-the-radar February release however, The Voices still thrives as an out-and-out romp amid said familiarity, earning its title as a forgettable but satisfyingly competent entry into the contemporary black comedy canon.

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