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Too Insane To Ignore: Marjane Satrapi On Her Fascinating Sundance Horror-Comedy 'The Voices'

Photo of Carlos Aguilar By Carlos Aguilar | SydneysBuzz February 3, 2014 at 9:53AM

Naturally charming and sporting a fantastically dry sense of humor, Iranian-born French filmmaker Marjane Satrapi seems to have the perfect set of sensitivities and artistic vision to make a film like "The Voices". Starring Ryan Reynolds in one of the best performances he has ever delivered, the film, which recently premiered to great notices at the Sundance Film Festival, is a gory horror comedy about a deranged man whose cat encourages him to pursue evil endeavors, despite his dog's verbalized disapproval.
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Ryan Reynolds (center) in 'The Voices'
Ryan Reynolds (center) in 'The Voices'

"The Voices" is a tonally complex film. How did you balance the horror, the gore, and the humor to create something that felt right to you, and that you felt would connect with audiences?

That's a question of equilibrium. I know, for example, that I hate when I see something penetrating into the flesh, it really upsets me, and it takes me out of the film. Here, I never show what he is cutting; you never see the blade going in. I think that a human being's imagination is much worse than the reality. It's like Freddy Krueger, they show him so much that at the end of the film you are "F-ck Freddy Krueger" [Laughs]. If they never showed Freddy you would be much more scared of him than if you see him 55 times. He becomes like a puppet. "F-ck you Freddy Krueger, go sleep in your own room!"

Was Ryan Reynolds attached to the film from the beginning? Or was this a joined decision between you and the producers?

I came on board and then they called me saying, "Ryan Reynolds is very interested in the project, he really wants to do it" I didn't know Ryan Reynolds at the time. I had watched "The Proposal" which is a romantic comedy, and I'm not too much into those, but then I saw movies with him like "Buried" and you realize that the guy is a very good actor, but he is too handsome and all that. So I went to New York to meet him. I was like "If he is late by one minute I'm going to give him a hard time!" but then he is not late, he was actually 10 minutes early, and I'm also always ten minutes early.

The second I saw him and we start talking about the film and the character, I knew he was the right one He really has this face that is so innocent, so boyish, so nice, but there is something in his dark eyes, and his smile, which is really freaky, so he was really the guy who could be crazy and at the same time the second he smiles you forget he is crazy. That was very important for the film because how can you make a film in which you have compassion for the killers? Normally you hate the serial killer, here we like the serial killer until the end, despite what he has in his fridge, and we still like him. That was the biggest challenge and Ryan was the right person. If we had an actor that one could think there is evil in him it wouldn't work, we had to have an actor that is pure innocence but in reality he is f-cking sick!

After this experience would you like to continue making films in the U.S. or do you plan to return to France and make your next film there?

I really don't know. I just finished this film the Sunday before the festival. We finished, we made the DCP, and we came here. I had to come with the DCP myself. Now, I think I will rest a little bit, life is full of surprises and I'm not somebody who plans anything in my life. I'm just here, and I wait. Maybe I will have a script that I want t write myself, or maybe a great story will come again and I will say, "I can't not do this."

At the same time, there is something good about working on somebody else's script because you have more distance to the story, while reading it you know what doesn't work. If you wrote it you think everything works, in your mind everything creates a logic that works. But if it is not yours you can see what doesn't work right away, and the writer can't see that.

When I'm editing I need someone else's point of view. I edit in four times. Edit, then I don't see the film for two weeks, and then edit again. Every time you see something for a long time you are convinced that it works, then you get some distance and you look at it again and you realize "This is not working" I'm not a fan of very long movies. Today most movies are long and I think, "F-cking cut!" Some films like "There Will Be Blood", of course it should be more than two hours, the story requires that, but there so may films that make me feel like saying "Come on, go on!"

This article is related to: Marjane Satrapi, Ryan Reynolds, Sundance 2014, Sundance Film Festival, Interviews, The Voices, Anna Kendrick, Thriller





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