Ryan Reynolds Talks To His Pets In Dark Satire 'The Voices' [Sundance '14 Review]

After several attempts to go the modern leading man route toplining blockbusters, Ryan Reynolds makes a bold career choice with The Voices. He plays Jerry, a mentally ill man doing his best to live a healthy life. He likes his assembly line job, and asks out a beautiful girl. Things are looking up. Except for the fact he believes his cat and dog are speaking to him. What the cat says is not good, and not only because the pet spits vulgarities in a thick brogue.

Make no mistake. Marjane Satrapi, director of the stunning animated film Persepolis, has not made a version of Dr. Dolittle starring Ryan Reynolds. The Voices twists Jerry's plight into dark shapes, resulting in a frequently disturbing, frequently hilarious and always surprising film.

Reynolds is way out of his comfort zone playing Jerry, but he nails the performance. He's handsome, obviously, but also nervous and shy. His presence creates a sense of slight foreboding. It isn't too difficult to understand why sexy British co-worker Fiona (Gemma Arterton) would reject him, and why nervous Lisa (Anna Kendrick) would crush on him.

Jerry's therapist (Jacki Weaver) is doing her best with him, but he lies to her about some of his problems. He denies hearing voices, despite the fact that he takes advice from his cat Mr. Whiskers and dog Bosco. Those characters act as his own personal angel and devil, simultaneously encouraging and discouraging Jerry from doing very bad things.

It would be a sin to spoil where The Voices goes from there. Suffice to say, things continue to get worse for Jerry, and much of it is tied into those animals, and what they represent for the guy. Satrapi balances humor and darker elements with great skill, keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat even in the funniest moments. The whole film has an uneasy feeling and the screenplay by Michael R. Perry (Paranormal Activity 2) dispenses horrifying vital information in drips and drabs. Major reveals are accomplished visually, and gasps were audible in my screening as truths about Jerry were revealed.

The scariest thing is that as Jerry slowly begins to give in to his dark side, he's still kind of likable. He never goes completely over the edge. That's almost all thanks to Reynolds' performance as the actor uses his natural charm to be the antithesis of crazy Jerry.

The Voices is an insane movie. It gives a unique and surprising spin to a story we've seen many times, in many genres. Once you realize what the film is doing, it's pretty predictable, but you still won't believe what you're seeing./Film rating: 7.5 out of 10