Jerry, an upbeat yet socially awkward individual, lives in a small town, working in the shipping and delivery department for a packing company. Regardless of his sugary disposition, Jerry is also mentally ill, and has recently been avoiding his medication. Hallucinations begin to consume Jerry, as his mental illness takes hold, as he begins to hear voices coming from his dog and cat. While his dog represents Jerry’s good side, often attempting to convince Jerry that he is a good man, the cat is a manifestation of his darker tendencies, routinely trying to convince him to embrace his murderous potential. Marjane Satrapi’s The Voices is a pitch black comedy featuring a surprisingly strong performance by Ryan Reynolds, which manages to be both very entertaining and a poignant study of mental illness. This film is definitely over-the-top, sometimes reviling in its own twisted world but what surprised me about The Voices is the portrait of mental illness it creates. While I’m sure some will find the film borderline insensitive, The Voices does a good job of developing Jerry as a character, showing his deeply troubled past involving an abusive father and mentally-disturbed mother, who no doubt shaped Jerry’s mental condition from an early age. There are sequences of this film that are emotionally devastating, as it becomes clear that Jerry is a byproduct of a deeply troubled childhood. Playing with point-of-view, Marjane Satrapi really captures the power of mental disease, with The Voices being a loose but seething commentary on the state of mental health in this country. Disturbing, and funny, The Voices is a unique and subversive cinematic experience that offers surprising moments of emotional resonance about a man who can’t control his mental disease
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