Thursday, 12 February 2015

REVIEW - THE VOICES (MARJANE SATRAPI)


It can be deeply rewarding, or deeply disconcerting, not to know where a filmmaker is heading with their concept. Graphic novelist turned director Marjane Satrapi seems to take pleasure in withholding from her audience clear signposts for what she plans to do, stylistically and thematically, with her films. Working from Michael R. Perry's somewhat didactic screenplay, however, there's only so much Satrapi can do - The Voices represents a gleeful triumph of artistry over mediocrity in the end, though as both co-exist, the journey is intermittently uncomfortable. Perry drafts up some snappy dialogue - he, like lead Ryan Reynolds, displays a flair for humour, and the manner in which all parties conspire to draw it out of even the bleakest of scenarios holds a perverse pleasure. Actually, maybe not the bleakest - The Voices seeks not always to combine comedy and tragedy, but sometimes to juxtapose them, and its bleakest moments are reserved solely for the latter, and pack quite the emotional sucker punch. Satrapi may fill the screen with bold colours, particularly an emasculating pink in the early scenes, but her technique is subtler than it seems. Her experience in animation lends her a peerless appreciation of spacial dynamics and visual styling, and few mise-en-scenes this year are quite so rigorous, nor quite so effective. Alas, that's of little comfort when The Voices succumbs to the inadequacies of its schematic plotting, or becomes a shade too besotted with the violence it necessarily relies upon. Once or twice, that aforementioned perversity spills over from its protagonist's mindset into the filmmakers'. Generally, it's not hard to guess where The Voices is heading with its concept; the journey there is both deeply rewarding and, at times, deeply disconcerting.