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Why ‘The Voices’ is the Truly Original Film Starring Ryan Reynolds You Can Watch Right Now

Why 'The Voices' is the Truly Original Film Starring Ryan Reynolds You Can Watch Right Now

It’s true. There is a subversive, darkly comedic, and
unconventionally brilliant film starring Ryan Reynolds that you can watch right
now; however, said offering is not based on a comic book, it doesn’t rehash
formulaic tropes, and it didn’t open on 2000+ screens this past weekend. No,
Deadpool” is not that film and it couldn’t be that film based on the financial
stakes that a studio production carries. When you are trying to pave the ground
for a merchandise-selling franchise with mass appeal while simultaneously seeking
to satisfy the wishes of a demanding fan base, you clearly can’t fully make
something that’s out of the ordinary or as daring as you are supposed to and still
meet all the criteria – but you can definitely make the audience believe you
did.

Frankly, what “Deadpool” offers is a façade of originality built
on a pseudo edgy screenplay that believes raunchy penis jokes, slightly more
violent content than in usual superhero fare, and endless meta references, are marvelously
clever and groundbreaking elements. That could have been, but when these are jam-packed
into the most bafflingly generic story possible, which was shamelessly tailored to open on Valentine’s
Day weekend, all those ideas the team behind it thought were so amusingly
unique are turned into desperate attempts to drown viewers under a relentless amount of
information via quick dialogue in order to hide how safe and undercooked the project actually
is underneath.

It isn’t difficult to agree with the general consensus that
Reynolds was the right choice to play the offbeat character, but regardless of
how engaging his performances aims to be, what surrounds him is a lazily
written romance, an uninteresting and simplistic origin story, a villain with
no tangible reason or motivation to be devious, and a slew of purposeless supporting
characters ranging from an archetypical best friend to two bland X-Men mutants.

Still, if nothing else, “Deadpool” reminds us that this
actor, now finally turned action star after his fair share of monumental flops
such as “Green Lantern” or “R.I.P. D.,” could be more than just another Hollywood
hunk jumping around in a latex suit. Though in film he spends most of his
screen time regurgitating self-referential gags and murdering henchmen and
civilians galore, his devilishly charming delivery exudes satirical nuance even
when the material at hand is repetitive and unwarrantedly juvenile. His
psychopathic behavior and raunchy sense of humor might very well be exactly
what the fans wanted and maybe even an accurate depiction of who the character
is on the source material, but no one, critic or audience member, should be
expected to be versed on the specifics of this property. It is, after all, the
job of the screenwriters and the director to make a film that can be enjoyed
even by those who have no previous knowledge of who “Deadpool” is. Sure, let’s say most people found it enjoyable on the most basic level of what entertainment can be, but it’s hard to think anyone who wasn’t already invested in the character prior to watching the film
learned anything about this murderous vigilante beyond the cliched and shallow idea that he wants
the girl, revenge, and a pretty face. Even lesser Marvel characters show more
depth.

But this doesn’t mean Reynolds has not taken on a role that
demands much more of his abilities while still being a humorous affair. Back in
2014, “The Voices,” a film by Iranian-born director Marjane Satrapi, premiered
at the Sundance Film Festival where it took most audience members and press by
surprise. Tonally ambiguous, the film glides back and forth between gory horror
and grim comedy in such a strangely memorable manner that it’s sure to make many very uncomfortable. That decisive conviction to venture into genre
territory unafraid to be disliked and holding nothing sacred is what “Deadpool”
lacks.

Unfortunately for “The Voices,” however, that admirable
attitude to be what its screenwriter and director wanted it to be without
compromising anything for the sake of success, rendered it, in the eyes of its
distributors, too risky and bold for them to take a chance on it. It took
Lionsgate more than year to release the film, and when it finally happened Satrapi’s film was given a one-week theatrical run in Los Angeles, New York, and a handful
of other cities. A very quiet, lets-dump-it-and-get-rid-it-of-it kind of release
for a film by an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker and starring  two bankable talent like
Reynolds and Anna Kendrick . Its perfectly balanced weirdness proved to be far
too outrageous for a market that likes to pretend it’s adventurous while hiding
behind tentpoles.

In “The Voices” Reynolds plays Jerry, an extraordinarily sweet
and proper young man who works at a warehouse. He is all smiles, but beneath his docile
appearance, Jerry is hiding serious unresolved emotional issues that can
potentially trigger his most dangerous side. He lives in a large space shared only with his loving dog, Bosco,
and sassy cat, Mr. Whiskers. How do we know Mr. Whiskers has a cheeky
demeanor? Well, that’s because Jerry and his pets literally engage in
conversations about his life. When Jerry is debating how to approach the young
girl he likes at work, Fiona (Gemma Arterton), Bosco, being the voice of reason,
encourages him to be himself, while Mr. Whiskers insidious comments attempt to push the unstable man into commit violent acts.

Showcasing yet another facet of his talent, Reynolds also
voices both Bosco and Mr. Whiskers, which are very distinct. He is in essence
playing three characters at once in a film with talking severed heads and a
musical credits sequence that includes Jesus Christ himself. It’s all partially
absurd but entirely enthralling. What Reynolds can do when granted a role in a
project that doesn’t care about being a four-quadrant film, but rather about
creating something extraordinary is impressive. Without a doubt Ryan Reynolds
gives the best performance of his career in “The Voices,” and does so thanks to
the work of a filmmaker that is just as unconcerned with what Hollywood wants
as the film itself.

“Persepolis” and “Chicken with Plums” director Marjane Satrapi
is a visionary who took the risk of making a film she knew was unapologetically
insane as her English-language debut, and while the American box-office didn’t
reflect the sheer genius of “The Voices,” she crafted an improbably layered
horror comedy with much more heart and guts than anything starring an A-list
actor right now. She grabbed Michael R. Perry’s screenplay and turned into
something unnervingly magical, so much that a serial killer demands our
sympathy and elicits our laughs scene after scene. A saturated color palette where men wear neon pink, a
vibrant pop-heavy soundtrack, the sharp banter from Jerry’s four-legged friends, and some
unforgettably deranged sequences, construct a film that was seen by way too few when it was first released
and that deserves a place in the pantheon of underrated cult films that were
too fearless for their own good.

When a film like “The Voices,” a far superior example of a
filmmaker and an actor creating something that defies the norm, is denied a
chance to larger exposure because of its premise and unusual tone, and another
formulaic product from the endless slate of superhero films is heralded as a
“game-changer, ” something is clearly wrong with the way we rate originality.
Sure, their scales can’t even be compared in terms of budget and marketing campaigns,
but the two films exist in the same general genre and star the same actor in
roles that are supposed to be irreverent and disturbing. The problem is that
one lies about what it really is and the other is just that thing the other is lying
about. Marjane Satrapi has experience adapting graphic novels, her first two
films where based on her published works, Fox or Marvel should get her on the
phone and pitch her a superhero film. I doubt she’ll take it, but maybe she can
share some pointers on what it really means to be unique.

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