Like Channing Tatum, Ryan Reynolds has evolved from a generic bro to a genius who's learned to use his normalcy as a weapon. And in Marjane Satrapi's The Voices, Reynolds's Jerry Hickfang, a small-town sweetheart who works in a candy-colored bathtub factory, turns out to be the movie-style Everyman he at first appears: yearning, insecure, kind. He's also a schizophrenic serial killer–to-be. Just when we're about to dismiss The Voices as a gimmicky Sundance comedy about a likable guy with a talking cat, Satrapi reveals she's been screwing with us the whole time: She's stuck the camera inside his head. Jerry gobbles a pill, takes a nap -- and, as he shakes himself awake, we see his life as it really is: grotesque. The light dims to dishwater-gray; his tidy stacks of Tupperware crumble; his only companions, his pets, turn away from him in silence.
The Voices is a perfect film that's hard to watch. Jerry will kill, and he'll kill characters we like. He thinks it's by accident. Forced into his eyes, it's hard to tell. The deaths hurt on both ends of the knife, from the victims staring up at Jerry in confused, blubbering fear to Jerry stabbing them in the chest while pleading, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Screenwriter Michael R. Perry gives Jerry a traumatic backstory, which is agonizing enough, though it fuzzes The Voices' broader point. We tend to assure ourselves that criminals are absolute monsters, as though well-meaning folks never do a bad, bad thing. Yet nice people hurt others every day, even as they pat themselves on the back. There's a little Jerry in everyone.