By: Liam Rutledge
Ryan Reynolds has starred in a number of blockbuster films that have cemented his legacy as a Hollywood celebrity. His role as the titular character Van Wilder in 2002 was arguably his breakout performance. From there, his acting resume has only strengthened. With these increasingly similar roles, he has begun to build a reputation for one very specific type of performance. Whether you love that performance or hate it, it has made him millions through movies like Deadpool, Free Guy, and The Adam Project.
But there is one particular Reynolds movie that has sat quietly under the radar since its release in 2014, which some could argue may just be his best performance to date.
Ever heard of or seen The Voices?
In the film, directed by Marjane Satrapi (writer of the graphic novel Persepolis), Reynolds plays Jerry, a happy-go-lucky factory worker dressed in a hot pink jumpsuit. The contagious joy of his performance is delightfully refreshing when compared with his general cynical and sarcastic performances in other features.
Jerry is generally overlooked and made fun of by his coworkers, who see him as a bit of an oddball. That is except for one girl, played by Anna Kendrick, who is interested in Jerry but he can’t seem to notice. It's the perfect set up for any romantic comedy. But not for Jerry. It's not that kind of movie.
You see, Jerry hears voices in his head, which are physically presented through his cat and dog, both voiced by Reynolds. Jerry’s dog, Bosco, serves as his moral conscience, imploring him to do the right thing, regardless of the outcome. Reynolds explains that the voice he created was aiming to be “naive, somewhat ignorant, thinks the world is black and white,” which comes across clearly in his performance.
In contrast, Reynolds’ voice for Jerry’s cat has a “mercenary sensibility with lead pipe cruelty,” which is portrayed perfectly with the initially odd choice of including a Scottish accent. Reynolds says that he based this voice off of his friend, who is “one of the most intimidating people [he has] ever met.” The intimidating energy is felt as Mr. Whiskers steals many moments throughout the movie. The majority of the film is Reynolds speaking to himself in a dark room, and the fact that it is so engaging speaks volumes of his acting talent. But Reynolds’ acting in this movie isn’t just limited to goofy talking animals.
Reynolds’ character asks his coworker, played by Gemma Arterton, on a date, but she stands him up. Upon returning to the office defeated, Reynolds discovers Arterton’s character stranded with a flat tire, and he offers to drive her home. A series of events plays out involving a car crash and a dead deer, and next thing you know, Reynolds has killed Arterton’s character.
From this moment, the movie descends into darkness, as Reynolds becomes an unsettling and unpredictable serial killer. Despite the grim nature of the story, the film is filled with fantastical and goofy elements. This contrast creates an interesting and entertaining film that balances comedy and horror in a tonally interesting way.
Reynolds expertly demonstrates his range and ability throughout this movie as he switches between ominous serial killer and happy-go-lucky employee. Despite this film going unnoticed due to poor marketing, The Voices demonstrates that beneath all the blockbusters and overdone sarcastic performances, Ryan Reynolds is an incredible actor who deserves to stay in the spotlight.