Seeing Persepolis or Chicken with Plums will not prepare you for director Satrapi’s latest film, other than her willingness to use fantasy to make reality a bit more palatable. But reality in this film is very, very dark; The Voices is most definitely not a movie for everyone. Her latest bit of tragic character study is part dark comedy and part attempt to get inside the head-space of a disturbed individual. And that puts it mildly.
The Voices is also Satrapi’s first film where she hasn’t written the script. The story and words were provided by Perry, who is best known for his multiple TV series involvement from American Gothic to The River. The big screen has allowed all his darkest thoughts and ideas to run rampant. Not to mention his sarcastic sense of humor.
Reynolds (RIPD) does a great job of providing a man in the midst of disintegration, understanding that he’s drowning but not sure he can fight the rising waters. His voice work is also top notch. He is supported by Arterton (Byzantium), Kendrick (Cake), Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook), and Smith (Frankenstein) who manage to play both sides of his fantasy with ease.
While the performances are all well done, it is directorial choice to show us the world alternately through Reynold’s eyes and as it really is to keep us grounded. It isn’t that this approach hasn’t been done before, but I can’t recall other stories being so sympathetic, but not apologetic, about their main characters.
You really need to love the darkest comedy to even approach this story. Even then, the interactions and starkness of the events and choices may be too much for some people. It isn’t overly or unfairly grotesque visually, but you have no doubt about what is going on at any time. Personally, I found it both funny and horrifying. Whether it is a good depiction of the issues raised, I can’t really say, but it was believable, and that was enough.