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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Voices movie review: losing my cool

The Voices red light

A chipper woman-hating comedy about a serial killer… that wants us to feel sorry for him? This is disgusting, repulsive, and enraging.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

I’ve said it before, but this has never been more apropos: I am tired of being expected to have a sense of humor about the violent abuse and even the murder of women. Complain about a rape joke or a horror flick in which a sexy half-naked girl is killed in an awesome way, and you’re likely to be told to “lighten up, it’s just a bit of fun.” (If you’re a woman, that is. If you’re a man, you’re just as likely to be applauded for your insightful cultural criticism.) And now The Voices seems to be a deliberate provocation, designed to dare the likes me: Shall I be the “cool girl” that Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne describes, the one who laughs along as Ryan Reynolds in his snappy pink jumpsuit saws up a woman’s body on his kitchen counter, just so I can be one of the guys? Or shall I be the humorless feminist harpy bitch ruining everyone else’s party by pointing out that a chipper comedy about a serial killer that wants us to feel sorry for him and that ends in a happy song and dance in heaven with his victims — who are apparently delighted to have been murdered — and with Jesus Christ himself is disgusting, repulsive, and enraging?

I think you can guess which side I’m coming down on.

I’ve seen some woman-hating movies in my time, but I’ve never seen anything like The Voices before. I’m astounded and disappointed that it comes from director Marjane Satrapi, who made a rare girl’s coming-of-age film in Persepolis. (Maybe she’s trying to be the “cool girl” with Hollywood?) Screenwriter Michael R. Perry has been mostly a TV writer, but he also wrote Paranormal Activity 2, which should have been a warning sign. The tone of his script — and the film’s sprightly production design — is very much this: Who couldn’t sympathize with Jerry (Ryan Reynolds: A Million Ways to Die in the West, The Croods) when he “accidentally” kills his coworker Fiona (Gemma Arterton: Runner Runner, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) while she was running away from him in terror. Through the woods at night. In her underwear. Who hasn’t been there? And hey, didn’t she stand him up on their date? She kind of deserved it. Anyway, it’s not like he meant to stab her. Multiple times. While she was lying on the ground unable to escape his grasp.

It’s all a lark! It’s a lark when he fools his “court-appointed psychiatrist” (Jacki Weaver: Magic in the Moonlight, Parkland) into believing that he is not being directed in his actions by voices in his head. It’s hilarious because he actually is! It’s a lark when he has long involved conversations with his pets about whether he should kill again. It’s a lark that Mr. Whiskers is a beautiful orange kitty with a foul mouth, a Scottish accent, and murderous intent, and that the big dumb dog Bosco is an ineffective angel on Jerry’s shoulder unable to counter Mr. Whiskers’ devil. Isn’t that just like a cat, and just like a dog? Charming! (Reynolds provides the animals’ voices. Such actor! So talent!) It’s a lark when Fiona’s severed head in Jerry’s fridge is joined by that of Lisa (Anna Kendrick: Happy Christmas, Drinking Buddies), and he proceeds to have a wonderful relationship with the two women — well, with their heads — who talk to him and support him in ways they never did while they were alive. (Let Fiona try to stand him up now!) How marvelous for Jerry.

Oh, but wait: Lisa really did genuinely like Jerry and would never have stood him up for a date and in fact actually pursued him. And it turns out it’s only in Jerry’s head that the world looks so happy and bright and pink. And there’s a secret in his past that haunts him. So it turns out that The Voices is also a tragedy. Sadness!

It’s almost impossible to truly convey how appalling The Voices is. Imagine if someone made a musical comedy about lynching that featured men dangling from nooses belting out a tune called “Just Hangin’ Around,” and later there was a melancholy ballad in which hooded KKKers lamented how they just can’t help being bigoted butchers, while their victims looked on sadly and told them not to be so hard on themselves. Except the difference would be: lynching is a thing (mostly) of the past. But women are killed by men they know and trust every day. And that fact is denied, downplayed, and even ignored, a situation that is fostered by “entertainment” like this despicable movie.


See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of The Voices for its representation of girls and women.


red light 0 stars

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The Voices (2015)
US/Can release: Feb 06 2015 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: Mar 20 2015

MPAA: rated R for bloody violence, and for language including sexual references
BBFC: rated 15 (strong language, sex references, bloody violence, gore)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Danielm80

    And when a commenter criticizes your criticism of the movie using the same bad criticisms you criticized in your review, the universe as we know it will cease to exist.

  • Constable

    Where are the Women: the fridge apparently… -150

  • Bluejay

    I’m astonished that Satrapi, of all people, would make something like this. I found an interview in The Dissolve where she’s asked, “you’ve always come across as a very strong feminist voice… and yet this is a story that looks sympathetically at somebody who murders women,” and I almost couldn’t believe her response: basically, yeah, he kills women, but he’s not sexual about it, and besides, he’s not just killing 50-pound blondes; his victims have a wide range of diverse body types!

    *headdesk*

    Imagine if someone made a musical comedy about lynching that featured men dangling from nooses belting out a tune called “Just Hangin’ Around,”

    Actually, the first thing that made me think of was Mel Brooks’ “The Inquisition.” Was Satrapi trying to go for that feel, and just failed utterly? (Or maybe I need to rewatch “The Inquisition” and see if it’s as funny as I remember…)

  • Prince Valiant

    My god, MaryAnn! A woman-hating comedy? Are you aware that the director of the film is a woman, and an extremely talented one, and that the main character of The Voices is a schyzophrenic? Lighten up and avoid hyperbole. it ain’t cool to lose one’s own cool!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Fortunately not, as what you described was inevitable.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Are you referring to “The Inquisition” number from “History of the World, Part 1”? Cause that is funny, but it’s also – and this is key – short. Mel Brooks was savvy enough to know not to belabor the really offensive jokes. At least until the late ’80s (at which point, he started to belabor all the jokes).

  • Danielm80

    No, the Marjane Satrapi interview proves that we’re now living in the Bizarro universe. (“The desire in this film comes from the women. He just follows.”) Fortunately, that means that women are now a driving force at the box office:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/23/business/media/at-the-box-office-its-no-longer-a-mans-world.html?ref=movies&_r=0

  • bronxbee

    i am seriously hoping that you are making with the jokes here…

  • Hallah

    That… that has to be a parody, right?

  • Elwood

    I hope this is meant as parody.

  • Patlandness

    Where do we draw the line at being jaded in our humor?

    There are tons of black comedies where it’s man-on-man violence (including murder, rape, ect.) and no one bats an eye. Or woman-on-man violence is often considered a hoot (“Serial Mom” anyone?) But, when it’s a black comedy featuring man-on-woman violence it’s considered an affront to human decency.

    I’m not sure where to stand on this. On one hand there’s the South Park credo about satire: “It’s either all okay or none of it’s okay”.

    On the other hand: our attitude on violence in general is frankly appalling. We’re far too flippant and I’ve been as guilty as the next person. I don’t know if black comedies have a cathartic or satiric value or are they just fertilizer for the seeds of our apathy and indifference.

  • No, it’s not a matter of “It’s either all okay or none of it’s okay.” For one thing, there’s the matter of punching down when one should be punching up. In the case of this specific movie, the tone is a huge problem, as is the fact that there is nothing in the least bit satirical about it.

    There are plenty of movies with man-on-man violence that are objectionable (and to which I have objected). But as in so many other matters, men are not represented on film almost entirely as victims or supporting characters. Men are represented as fully human people who do and feel and experience everything a person can do and feel and experience. For Christ’s sake, there have even been movies about men who get pregnant; men who think they are women or live as women or who actually transition to women (a whole fuck-ton more than there are about trans men); male drag queens; and men who aren’t trans who dress as women for comedic purposes.

    But in this movie — yet again — women who are barely more than caricatures have to die in order to further a man on his journey. Fuck this shit.

  • A brilliant pastiche! Bravo!

  • She’s wrong: there are definite sexual overtones to his murders. The first woman he murders is the one he has been pining for, and he kills her after she blows him off after she’d agreed to meet him.

  • The only desire most of the women in this film have with regards to Jerry is to get the hell away from him.

  • Delicatewording

    I was generally with you, but arguing that the fact that there are more movies about trans-women than trans-men is a bias towards male characters is pretty disrespectful towards transgender people. Movies about trans-women *are* movies about women, even if they haven’t transitioned at the start of the film.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The “South Park” credo is wrong. That’s just a basic false dichotomy.

  • Melanie

    “humorless feminist harpy bitch ruining everyone else’s party” I kid you not, I was basically called this last week, in so many words, by one of my oldest friends.

    Thanks, I loved this review. I hate that these movies are still being made.

  • Danielm80

    The credo was a comment on censorship, and it made a lot of sense in context, when the South Park guys were prevented from showing Mohammed on TV. It makes no sense here. No one is censoring anything. Artists have a right to make fun of religion, or show scenes of extreme violence, and critics have a right to say that the film is tasteless or the cartoon isn’t funny.

    I guess Patlandness is trying the old political correctness equals censorship argument. But it only works if MaryAnn is a straw feminist, someone who can’t stand violent movies unless all the victims are men. Also, no matter what reactionary folks on the Internet say, a movie can be politically incorrect and still be terrible.

  • Bluejay

    I guess Patlandness is trying the old political correctness equals censorship argument.

    It didn’t come across to me that way, particularly in the context of Pat’s last paragraph. I think s/he’s thinking out loud and genuinely trying to sort out conflicting positions. I’ve done that at times.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    This may have just ruined Ryan Reynolds for me.

  • I agree with you. But I don’t think Hollywood sees it that way, or if it does, that’s a recent development, as attitudes about trans people have changed *very* recently.

  • A movie can be “politically incorrect” (I *hate* that phrase, but that’s another discussion) and still be great, too.

  • I get called this regularly, if not in those exact words. See every other comment on my review of *It Follows* and *Cinderella,* for instance. :-/

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Given that films most often cast cis men in transgender role, you’re probably right.

  • Lou

    I bet Reynolds will be devastated.

  • Rylingo

    I thought it was fairly obvious that the movie viewed Jerry’s actions as reprehensible. Whenever he starts taking his anti-psychotic medicine he sees the true world along with the results of his actions. It is horrible for both the viewer and Jerry’s character. He is violently sick upon seeing Fiona’s head.

    “And now The Voices seems to be a deliberate provocation, designed to dare the likes me: Shall I be the “cool girl” that Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne describes, the one who laughs along as Ryan Reynolds in his snappy pink jumpsuit saws up a woman’s body on his kitchen counter, just so I can be one of the guys?”

    Taking dark subject matter and turning it into jokes is always going to appear provocative. Dark humour is definitely not going to be for everyone.

    I didn’t think the movie was good. On the other hand it didn’t seem really sexist either since the lead character is never presented as a moral person. Even Jerry realises he is evil by the end. The dog (manifestation of his own mind) points this out. By the end of the movie his male kill count was probably higher than his female kill count.

  • leahnz

    MaryAnn, I’d be interested to hear your take on why you hate the phrase “politically incorrect” (as do I), if you’re able to write about your thoughts in some context here.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    No, it just lessens the pleasure of watching him in the roles I do like. Which kinda sucks.

  • RogerBW

    I was biast (pro) because I’ve liked Satrapi’s earlier work, but oh, dear.

    If I had a pound for every time I’ve chased a woman in her underwear through the woods at night (in a non-sexual way, obviously)…

  • Way too complicated. Maybe I’ll write a rant about it.

  • Derek

    Definitely agree with you here. Yes, the view on trans peoples does seem to have changed, at least in real life if not in movies, a little in the past couple years – but there is still a very long road to go yet unfortunately.

  • Derek

    I wasn’t interested in seeing this film but now it seems unstomachable so I will pass, thank you MaryAnn.

  • leahnz

    yes, please!

  • Doublemint Dave

    Yes, it is such a tragedy when a few women are brutally murdered in a dark comedy movie. I mean, seriously, who cares about the countless men who are killed in every which way imaginable in nearly every flick ever made, that’s all good fun, but these are WOMEN we’re talking about, and that is simply unforgivable, especially when a mentally unstable MAN is doing the killing. I mean, he should know better.

    Let us also completely ignore that the real victims of this unfortunate film are the schizophreniacs who are once again grossly misrepresented by the media and instead focus on how the poor, helpless female gender is victimized for the enjoyment of woman haters across the globe.

    Clearly, the makers of this film are dirty misogynists and massive disappointments to the entertainment industry and humanity as a whole.

    Yeah, I think I’m gonna go with all the people in the “lighten up” camp. You, my dear, have been listening to too much feminist propaganda and are seeing signs of misogyny where there are none. Is the movie in poor taste? Maybe, but maybe it just wasn’t to YOUR taste. We don’t all have the same sense of humor. The human ability to make fun of serious issues does not mean we take them lightly, or worse, support them.

  • I am not “your dear.”

    Nice G1 and B2, but we need a slot on the bingo card for “But what about the menz!!!!”

  • Doublemint Dave

    Indeed, we do. Having such obvious double standards devalues the criticism.

    But hey, by all means, keep drinking the feminist kool-aid, love. It’s not my credibility you’re ruining.

  • Danielm80

    There’s also a whole lot of G4 and—of course—O5. By the end of the day, Dave may fill up the whole board, and when he gets banned from this website, he’ll take it as proof that he’s won the argument.

  • Octaedre

    I’ve just finished writing my review and as always after finishing a review I look at the critics’ consensus, and I honestly cannot believe that the consensus on this film is as overwhelmingly positive as it is. This should not be a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the general lack of response or anything resembling at least some kind of disapprobation of the film as a whole and its subject matter is frankly disquieting to say the least.

    I’m a huge fan of Marjane Satrapi, but as you rightly said in your review I think this is mainly a problem of screenplay more than actual directing. However I have no idea why she would even consider taking on a script like this one in the first place. I’m tempted to say it’s a hollywood exec decision but I wouldn’t like to jump at conclusions.

    Suffice to say I’m grateful to have found this review and your website as well.

  • I’m not your “love,” either.

    It’s not my credibility you’re ruining.

    LOL!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    “It’s not my credibility you’re ruining.”

    You sure you wanna be throwing out softballs like this, bro?

  • PhilLynott

    I totally agree with you. This film had an appalling attitude and was trying waaaaaay too hard to be “quirky”. The Women were portrayed in such basic and clueless forms…. so terribly stereotyped too. The blonde girl, seemed to have no self reliance, the other was the “large girl who couldn’t get a date” and the other was the “bitchy hot office girl”.

    And, this is coming from a guy who doesn’t identify as a Feminist!

    Also, the other monstrosity: We as an audience are expected to laugh at one man’s mental illness. That’s the hook point for the “laughs” throughout the movie. “Aha! He’s talking to his cat, but he’s really talking to himself!”. How appalling and tasteless is that??

  • Edgar_1220

    I do enjoy how a very dark comedy that is a giant satire on something as nasty as schizophrenia has been picked apart for it’s anti-femenist view. Perhaps they should have Ryan Reynalds play bi-sexual and kill both sexes equally? Interesting outrage…

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    At the risk of repeating myself (from another thread) satire is tricky. And even at its best, it’s not guaranteed to land successfully. But when you satire of one topic can get attacked from a completely different angle, when then you satire is, at best, unfocused.

  • What’s being satirized in the film? Schizophrenia? Schizophrenia is being *satirized*? How, and to what end?

    Ryan Reynalds play bi-sexual

    So you admit that there’s a sexual element to his murders?

  • Ali

    Not only is it misogynistic and gratuitous in its violence against women (which tries to be slapstick but is really just gross and offensive), but it’s also yet another film–by an abled and clearly uninformed or just careless director–that happily gorges on popular false assumptions about schizophrenia. Oh no, watch out for us “quirky, endearing, charming” mentally ill people! We might be dangerous violent murderous psychopaths with really deranged creepy parents. So..feel sorry for us too! *Here’s* an actual tragedy:mentally ill people are far more likely to be victims of crime rather than the perpetrators. And hey, if you’re gonna make a film about a violent women-murdering schizophrenic with mommy issues (of *course* he has mommy issues), could he maybe not be a cringe-worthy embarrassing goof?! Could you at least not portray a mentally ill character as STUPID?

  • Derek

    agree :/ Movies as pop culture vehicles really do a lot to spread weird and incorrect ideas about mental illness. Especially Schizophrenia and Autism, it seems.
    Also, yeah, always Mommy Issues. Again, Hollywood going after women. But I guess, that’s the theme for this movie anyhow >.>

  • BeCool

    I get that you hate this movie so much you want to destroy it, but as a “professional” critic, how about a *Spoiler Alert* next time? Yeesh.

  • What do you think I spoiled? Cuz I didn’t reveal anything that the marketing of the movie doesn’t reveal.

  • Warcodered

    Lisa’s death isn’t revealed in the trailers.

  • Warcodered

    I honestly really loved this movie. I don’t really get how it makes fun or light of the murders of the women in the movie. Those scenes don’t have any jokes and are honestly horrifying. I saw this as more dramatic than comedic. It managed to play the conversations between Jerry and his voices for laughs. But a lot of the movie was a slow dark reveal of Jerry’s decent in to near total madness.

  • This is the UK poster for the film:

  • So, if a scene doesn’t have “jokes,” it’s not making light. Got it.

    And the happy song-and-dance at the end is not “making light”?

  • BeCool

    You spoiled the entire ending of the movie in the first paragraph of your review when you revealed the sequence in heaven with Reynolds’ character being dead, his victims being there, Jesus being involved, etc. None of that was in the previews I saw.

  • Warcodered

    Weird I’ve never seen anything revealing that till now. Though you did kind of reveal the last scene of the movie.

  • Warcodered

    Depends on how you look at it I guess. I saw it as him sinking fully into madness before his death. Either way I still don’t see where in this movie it contained a message that murdering women is okay. I don’t see where in this movie it says the women were asking for it. I could see your point if it was just going ha Jerry’s killed another one that’s so him, but every time someone dies the tone is that it’s horrifying and terrible.

  • Ichi_the_Killer

    Jesus- uptight much? You need to go back to masturbating to Lena Dunham and leave movie reviewing well enough alone. I’m thinking you hate Lynch, Cronenburg, Miike and any other director that challenges you to think too much. By that I mean thinking outside of your sweet little Gwynnie Paltrow pink box of Hello Kitty vomitous mediocrerous. yeah- i made a word up- does that also bust a nut on your feeble cranial crunt?

  • Look: This movie is not a mystery. It’s just about unspoilable because it’s not about what happens but about how what happens in treated onscreen. This is a movie about tone, not plot.

  • No. Sorry. The “message” of this movie is: We should feel sorry for Jerry, because he just couldn’t help murdering women. But he finds some peace in the end, so we should feel better about him.

    That’s disgusting.

  • Warcodered

    How Bosco(his conscience) literally tells Jerry that he is evil. There are also several points in the movie where it show that Jerry is participating in the acts himself. Such as taking Lisa to his childhood home in the middle of nowhere and bringing that knife. He also just straight up murders Alice no made up “Accident” or anything.

    Though I guess your saying that what makes the movie terrible is that it humanizes Jerry and if this mentally ill person had been better taken care of this wouldn’t of happened. I don’t see how that’s wrong that seems fairly accurate. The state of the care for the mentally ill in this country is in need of serious improvement. But even so I don’t see where the movie says that any of this excuses Jerry’s actions.

  • Do not try to make this movie a statement about the care of mental illness. It is no such thing.

  • Kieser Sozay

    Obviously reviewed by a man hating twat.

  • What’s obvious? In what way is complaining about a certain depiction of women being murdered equivalent to hating men?

  • Kieser Sozay

    It’s a movie about a male serial killer that prays on women and you turned into your misogynist agenda. Get over it. You seem to have a chip on your shoulder about ANYTHING that might threaten women, including this trite, POS movie. Why don’t you turn you focus on Islam, a real-world misogynist religion that has real world, negative impacts on women?

  • LaSargenta

    Ah. That’s an interesting spin on G4…she’s targeting the wrong kind of misogyny.

  • You didn’t answer my question. What is my “misogynist agenda,” and how is it represented in this review?

    Why don’t you turn you focus on Islam, a real-world misogynist religion that has real world, negative impacts on women?

    And let’s not fix broken bones until we find a cure for cancer.

  • Kieser Sozay

    You said dich….otomy.

  • Kieser Sozay

    He likes to get head (insert rim shot here)

  • Kieser Sozay

    Well, this is a movie with many aspects and many moving parts, like any movie, but the only thing you seem to focus on and talk about is the woman hating nature of this film and how misogynistic it is and that’s about it. How was the soundtrack? How was Ryan Reynolds acting?, Were there any scenes you did like? Was there any scenes you found funny? Did the dark comedy formula work for this movie if you ignore the fact that he kills women? So since all you talk about is the fact that woman hating movies suck and are becoming too cliche these days and you are tired of the overdone misogyny in movies, etc, etc, etc. I’d call that an agenda. It’s a Bait and switch from a movie review to a dissertation of why the violent abuse of women in movies sucks. You should have reviewed the movie and then wrote a separate piece on your views of women hating movies. That way I, as your audience, could have chosen to read the review and ignore the other.

  • Kieser Sozay

    That’s no way to get a head in life………..

  • LaSargenta

    B3 & I2

  • Kieser Sozay

    I need more B vitamins?

  • How was the soundtrack? How was Ryan Reynolds acting?

    Are you kidding? How was the soundtrack? I don’t care about the soundtrack when a movie has me boiling with rage over its *content.*

    Did the dark comedy formula work for this movie if you ignore the fact that he kills women?

    Now I know you’re still trolling. How the hell am I — or anyone — supposed to ignore *what the film is about*?

    I’m tired of critics who are unwilling to condemn a movie because the cinematography was gorgeous, or the soundtrack was beautiful. A movie with good performances that tells a repulsive story is still a repulsive movie.

    This is how I review movies. This is how I have always reviewed movies. If it’s not to your taste, there are hundreds of other critics you can read instead.

  • Sem

    First of all, I’d like to agree on your comments about the tone of the movie. The murders, set against this cheery-happy background in the film were apalling. It seems the filmmaker struck a certain tone and the cheery-pink production design, song and dance, etc, in fact, makes it even more gut-wrenching and terrible. The tone with which the movie treats the murders is disrespectful and despicable.

    What I doubt is that the tone is there specifically to glorify violence against women. Rather, it seems like the filmmaker has leveraged considerable craft in taking us on the emotional trip to being angry. Because you (and I) are now angry at the sheer senselessness of it and that the women are now dead. That, I believe, is called filmmaking. I don’t believe for a second, this was intended as light entertainment. I feel sucker-punched (was honestly expecting comedy) and the end is achieved by some rude and tasteless means, on purprose.

    A fair question to pose would be: does the film _overall_ glorify violence against women? That’s a more difficult one. I think, in her effort to wring emotion from the viewer, the filmmaker has hid very far behind the mask of cynicism. The film turned out to be too offensive to insert any kind of clear personal view on the issue out there. I feel I’m flapping in the wind and no idea what to make of it. What is it trying to be? Does it know what it is, at all? It must be about something. Rest of the film is put together with way too much intelligence, to be about..nothing?

    And that brings me to the final point. Why can the film not be about reaction to mental illness and crime, among other things? Ot could be a lot of things, really. Let’s have a look-see:

    1)

    – the whole story begins due to neglect from the court-appointed doctor. She specifically tells Jerry “let’s not find out what happens in court, take the pills!” after clearly establishing in multiple instances Jerry isn’t taking the pills. Instead of sending him on his way to the psych ward or sending in people to check his house and give the pills by force or whatever happens in these cases

    – And why does she react this way? Two bits of dialogue are revealing.

    a) One is the improptu session on the hood of the truck in the fiels. She says she/everyone also has voices she can not shut off, like telling her she could do better that a government job or that she’s fat. She doesn’t have to act on voices. So she makes it clear she understands insanity as an extreme, socially unacceptable and dangerous behaviour, that all people are susceptible to. She could’ve been in his place, for that matter.

    b) The other revealing bit is in the end, when after all Jerry has done, she says “the boy is sick”, before the sheriff slams the ambulance door.

    And so we have our motherly figure, very human and understandable, but nevertheless, profesionally misguided.

    2)
    Ah, and now for the father figure, the sheriff.

    – the first time we meet the sheriff, he let’s Jerry off with a wink. “The deer is an accident, relax”. Why is he so sure (lazy?) that it was a deer and not a human Jerry hit? Wouldn’t the sheriff of a 5000 town, who knows Jerry by name, also probably know he has a mental illness and wonder if it was a deer? Especially a couple of days later, in connection to remnants of a woman found in the woods?

    -second time around on the news, he’s very macho and tough and first thing he does, he declares a ruthless serial killer on a rampage. Of course, then he conveniently can go and take care of the problem, with maximum aggresiveness, with police cruisers doing U-turn and military-like tactics to take the house, “assuming he is armed”. Ummmm. One thing, though. Jerry is found after his co-workers run their investigation, not the police. And for some reason cavalry arrives on the scene, after the shrink is in real danger of being killed.

    Rather revealingly, the sheriff says “our safety is our main concern”. So, the sheriff is willing to let people do their thing in his tribe, unless it encroaches on his authority. Then he is Zeus, doling out punishment with maximum force.

    Does that somehow resemble Jerrys father? Who forces his wife to move from Berlin to US and when things don’t go according to plan, instead of taking responsibility, as a father should, he abuses the kid, saying he wishes the freak and his mother weren’t around to begin with.

    So, there seems to be a pattern here. Disfunctional family, anyone? But on a societal level. Someone may point out that I’m trying to make too much sense of the movie, while it’s happily singing and dancing and talking to cats. But then again, all this dialogue, all these plot points and hints are in the movie.They can not be discarded now. Why the theme is there, to begin with? And are the father-mother tie-ins and background story there to (simplistically) make us feel sorry for the dude (how?) Or instead explain why he is the way he is? To which there is a reference in the movie from Jerry himself, when he is interrupted by a knock on the door and can not finish the line of thought about being who he is, neither evil nor good, but a human being? Coincidence? One too many, in my humble opinion.

  • Sem

    I do have to apologize, for this reply being rather long. I do find your reaction very relevant and thought-provoking and could not resist the urge to have a discussion. Or at least put out there all I have to say on the topic in one post and see what comes up.

  • Kieser Sozay

    Thanks for proving my point regarding your “agenda”. Case closed. I’m going to move on to more interesting discussions. Good luck with your movie reviews.

  • What I doubt is that the tone is there specifically to glorify violence against women.

    I doubt it too. I haven’t said anything about “glorifying.” I don’t think the filmmakers intended anyone to get the message that killing women is fun and awesome and everyone should take it up as a hobby. But that doesn’t mean the film isn’t hugely problematic anyway.

    Why can the film not be about reaction to mental illness and crime, among other things?

    It *can* be. If it was intended that way, it’s a failure. Perhaps if the shrink and the cop were the main characters, this could begin to work.

  • No need to apologize. The purpose of the comments section at this site is to have conversations about movies!

  • a

    “I’m tired of critics who are unwilling to condemn a movie because the
    cinematography was gorgeous, or the soundtrack was beautiful. A movie
    with good performances that tells a repulsive story is still a repulsive
    movie.”

    Perhaps because movie reviews are opinionated and are generally essays pertaining to a person’s reaction to a film, and what stuck with them. True, a lot of films make use of style over substance but, if you think about it, the style, tone, and cinematography is a form of visual poetry (take under The Skin for example), it’s art, it speaks to someone in ways that dialogue can’t. I’m certainly not saying that this film has any, in fact, I HATED this one. But films that you hated and haven’t reviewed (*cough* Duke Of Burgundy) can sometimes kindle this euphoria in someone. I know that this is wildly off topic (well, it’s not pertaining to the review, but I’m replying to something that *you* brought up) but, it’s funny how visuals can say so much more than bare dialogue, or blatantly structured narrative.

    Regards,

  • Lisa

    Really? I’m a woman and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie for what it is. Fiction and entertainment. It’s called humour. Humour only works when you distance yourself, which you’re obviously not possible to do. So maybe you should not be a film critic. It’s not always about gender equality and political correctness. What a bleak and sad world this would be if we couldn’t laugh at our own insecurities and shortcomings anymore lest we offend someone. A movie about killing men would be okay then?

  • Toby1

    Could not agree more. The combination of the happy clappy stuff with the truly nasty and disturbing scenes is way off. You might expect this from some film student trying to shock, in the 1970s. But a massive Hollywood production? In 2015? Truly sickening.

  • What personal insecurities is this movie inviting us to laugh at?

  • LaSargenta

    Could you flesh this out a little more?

    Humour only works when you distance yourself…

  • Lisa

    That was just an example of humor. Never mind, I read your bullshit bingo chart and you’re clearly not interested in any real discussion. (Go ahead, was that a B1 or G4?). I will do what most people should do on the internet. Instead of wasting my time and energy I just go away and won’t look for any further film reviews/inspiration here. Have a nice day!

  • Danielm80

    I’ve actually been thinking about that quite a bit since Lisa posted her comment. (And Lisa gets a G1 and a B2.)

    A lot of movies ask us to feel empathy for the characters but also keep an emotional distance. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil was a horror comedy that MaryAnn loved. (If you haven’t seen it, you really should. It’s hilarious.) In order for that movie to work, we had to like the characters, at least enough to care what happened to them; but we also had to recognize that the violent things that happened were so ridiculously improbable they would never take place in the real world. Otherwise, the movie isn’t funny; it’s just horrific.

    MaryAnn also loved The Wolf of Wall Street. The main characters are all repulsive human beings. But when I saw the movie, I could kind of empathize with them. They were just having so much fun, even when they were bowling with midgets. That’s why the movie–for those of us who liked it–works as a social critique. It shows us the appeal of that kind of greed and debauchery, but if we have any emotional distance at all, we’re revolted by the idea that that kind of behavior gets rewarded.

    I haven’t seen The Voices, but it seems to encourage empathy for the wrong character. The idea seems to be that he’d be a pretty nice guy if it weren’t for those strange delusions that make him kill people.

    I wonder if the film would have worked as a satire about gender stereotypes. The man would represent the “nice guy” who deserves to get the pretty girl, and who finds love once he learns to be more aggressive. The women in the movie would be expected to act sweet and accommodating, even when their suitor was a mass murderer. Otherwise, people might think they were cruel or frigid, and then they’d never get a date.

    A good film critic has to both feel empathy and keep an emotional distance. For some reason, Lisa seems to think the emotional distance is more important. She also seems to think that every good critic has the same taste and the same sense of humor–presumably, the same sense of humor as Lisa’s. If they did, of course, there wouldn’t be so many film critics on Rotten Tomatoes. We’d only need one, who would always agree with Lisa–and would never talk about politics or gender equality.

  • LaSargenta

    prob. more What I think I don’t understand is the idea of distancing and the use of the word “only”. Especially, this is true with humor for me. If I am too distant from a person or character, I don’t understand the humor at all. Usually, I feel I ‘get’ humor when it shows some essential truth that feels real to me, and, hence, the distance is taken away. It usually is drama where I need to distance myself so I don’t have too much of an emotional hangover from it. I learned that the hard way with Autumn Sonata oh so many years ago.

    Anyhow, humor to me feels intimate and when it is good, it is raw — and I don’t mean in a vulgar way, just a genuine way.

  • Danielm80

    Most comedy tends to involve pain or humiliation, so if you don’t have any emotional distance at all, you’ll probably just feel sorry for the person who’s suffering. The famous Mel Brooks quote is: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

  • Tonio Kruger

    Could you at least not portray a mentally ill character as STUPID?

    Are you arguing that we need more pop culture items like this?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej8-Rqo-VT4

  • Tonio Kruger

    Or this?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpI2eEXrZMk

    (BTW, some of those images in this second video seem familiar. I wonder what they are supposed to be reminding us of…)

  • Paul

    Just watched this, thought it was great. The dead women in the fridge were witty and charming, and provided an instructive moral counterpoint to the bad-wrong actions of the mentally ill man. Was delighted to see them all united in Heaven in the end. Wouldn’t like to watch women being killed and chopped up in real life though. ٩◔‿◔۶

  • Women in refrigerators is NOT a good thing: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Women_in_refrigerators

  • Paul

    In real life – or in fiction? If you mean in real life, I agree that refrigerators aren’t the best place to keep women. They’d get very cold, and it just seems like a total waste to me when they could be out there, in society, being witty and charming, making smart, non bull-headed decisions and making a valuable contribution. God, imagine a world without women! What an ugly, violent, depressing world that’d be. I think I’d probably kill myself if some maniac didn’t beat me to it. So no, I don’t agree with keeping women in fridges, I think the idea is ridiculous. Maybe we could just keep the annoying ones there?

    Anyway, I very much enjoyed the film. I thought it was hilarious.

  • Way to not get it. Congratulations.

  • Paul

    Meaning what? That films like this lead directly to a higher proportion of women (real ones) in fridges (cold ones)? LOL, no, that’s bollocks. It’s fine that you didn’t like the film though. In contrast, I did.

  • Danielm80

    Paul has put more effort into not getting it than some people put into their actual jobs.

    If I were going to take his comments seriously, I would say something like this:

    In real life, I know witty and charming women, bull-headed women, flakey women, hyper-competent women, romantic women, and women who just want to get through the day at their boring job (possibly building refrigerators). I’d like to see all those different kinds of women on the screen when I’m watching a movie, rather than just victims and stereotypes.

    But since I don’t take his comments seriously, I’ll just say: G1, G5, and O5.

  • Meaning: Women in fiction deserve to be more than victims or support for men on their personal journeys.

  • Paul

    I’m going to ignore Daniel, except to say that I think he might work in my office. He seems to know the people there very well.

    The essence of his post is contained in this post, which is an expression of what you feel women in fiction ‘deserve’. That’s great – but, by contrast, I don’t feel characters in fiction ‘deserve’ anything. One of my favourite authors is Martin Amis. He treats his characters horribly, and the more horribly he treats them, the funnier his stories get. I like seeing characters in fiction suffer. I like seeing Fate casually wave its hand, and all being buffeted before it. I think it makes for really great stories.

    I just want to be entertained and don’t invest in the characters in the same way that you and Dan seem to. Characters in fiction are disposable. Kill them all if that’s what the story demands.

  • Bluejay

    I don’t feel characters in fiction ‘deserve’ anything.

    On a literal level, that’s true. However, how an author treats or depicts characters may be indicative of that author’s attitude towards such people in real life, as well as of society’s attitude at large.

    If a story has, say, a dumb, submissive black character, that may be fine if that’s what the story requires. But if the same type of dumb, submissive black character shows up in story after story after story, year after year, decade after decade, from author after author, then it’s worth asking if that says something about how we as a society regard black people, and if black readers deserve better representations of themselves in the stories they encounter. The same holds true for female characters and how they’ve been metaphorically “fridged” so often in pop culture that it’s become a commonplace meme. Stories don’t take place in a vacuum; cultural context matters.

    It’s fine that you’re entertained by this film. But it’s also possible to enjoy something AND be aware of any problematic subtexts it might have.

  • And isn’t it funny how often stories “demand” that female characters be treated as less than human?

  • Paul

    Lots of people in films get treated badly. Men and women, both black and white. Horses get killed (“No animals were injured during etc.”). I don’t think I accept Bluejay’s implication below that black people are treated badly in films these days. There are lots of prominent black actors, playing central, meaningful roles. Samuel L. is rightly held up as some kind of God, but there are plenty of others.

    I think, with women, you’re on surer ground: women get fewer central roles, they’re usually featured alongside a male lead, and yes, I’m afraid lots of them end up ‘in fridges’. I’m thinking that films like ‘Wild’ may be an exception to this, but I don’t know, I haven’t seen it yet. Are there any fridges in it? Anyway, I’m afraid the horrible treatment of women in some films is a reflection of a society in which some men are stupid, violent scum: inarticulate, emotionally numb except for a constant burning rage, which they express by lashing out at everyone and everything around them – men, women, children and horses. Some of these men wear uniforms and kill people for money. Lots of people regard these men as heroes, and films about their exploits are very popular. The world is a beautiful place populated by some very ugly people, and films, and TV, and video games reflect this.

    I appreciate that you’d like us to ignore the ugly stuff, and only make films (and TV, and games) that show men and women, and children and horses, living fulfilling, meaningful lives. Overcoming trauma, arduous personal jouney, strength in adversity, triumph of the human spirit – all that bullshit. I like those kinds of films too – preferably foreign with subtitles – but I also like seeing women in fridges, men having arrows shot into their heads, horses dying heroically and helicopters crashing into buildings, because those kinds of films can be engrossing and fun. I don’t confuse them with reality. You can call this just me trying to be controversial, but… I see films and reality as two distinct worlds (I know!). I don’t expect any life-enhancing take-home message from action films, horror films, black comedies (case in point). I don’t look to the world of entertainment for a moral lead on anything, and if I felt they were trying to lecture me, I’d be really, REALLY, hair-tearingly, plate-smashingly, incontinently angry. I’d like diversity in what I watch – including funny films about women in fridges. Happily, we have that. I’d hate to see the entertainment industry heed cries for a cleaner, more moral, more ‘uplifting’ approach to what they do, and ignore the dark side, just because some people don’t like it. Lots of us do. It’s like food, Like most sensible people I eat very healthily, but sometimes you just want junk. As long as your basic diet is good, the odd burger won’t do you any harm. Of course, what you eat is entirely up to you – you get me?

  • Bluejay

    I don’t think I accept Bluejay’s implications below that black people are treated badly in films these days.

    I was giving an extreme hypothetical example to clarify the “fridging” of women, and to point out that how we depict fictional groups of people has a bearing on how we regard those groups in real life.

    Also, you’re straw-manning her argument. MaryAnn isn’t calling for women to be depicted ONLY as strong, positive, wholesome, inspiring characters, or for stories to ignore the dark side of humans. She’s calling for women to be depicted AS FULLY HUMAN, with as much agency, as much variety (which you say you want) and as much of a story arc as the men, instead of so often being merely disposable, killable supports for the man’s journey and personal development. That leaves plenty of room for all the action/horror/comedy stuff you like to watch.

    As long as your basic diet is good, the odd burger won’t do you any harm.

    True, an occasional crappy burger won’t kill you. But are you saying a food critic can’t give a crappy burger a bad review?

  • Danielm80

    The problem is that every restaurant on every block is serving hamburgers all day long. If you try to order something else, people say, “What’s wrong with hamburgers?”

    Have you taken a look at MaryAnn’s “Where are the Women?” project. It’s one burger after another.

  • Danielm80

    I appreciate that you’d like us to ignore the ugly stuff, and only make films (and TV, and games) that show men and women, and children and horses, living fulfilling, meaningful lives.

    MaryAnn loved Maps to the Stars, which is all ugly stuff. But the women doing the ugly stuff are original, complex, distinct characters, not the same stereotypes we’ve see over and over again. It would be great to see more films like that.

  • Paul

    It sounds great, I shall look it up. I think there are plenty of films out there to suit all sensibilities though. We’re awash in entertainment as never before. That’s great too.

  • Paul

    I haven’t, no. It sounds dismal.

  • Paul

    “how we depict fictional groups of people has a bearing on how we regard those groups in real life”

    No, it doesn’t. Well, I can only speak for myself, I suppose.

    No, it doesn’t. I think films (TV, games) reflect and draw on reality, but I don’t accept that they frame it, or alter it. I think they’re entirely superficial and meaningless, and if you’re going round thinking you’re Robert De Niro from ‘Taxi Driver’, errrr get some help. By the time you reach adulthood, your moral outlook is pretty much set, and little will change it. If you’re fucked up at this point, blame your parents. Films aren’t going to make you love or hate women any more than you already do. Bad life experiences might influence it – that’s because bad life experiences can be very, very real, whereas films never can, and most sane and functional adults are pretty good at discerning one from the other. Like I said though, even if that weren’t true for the majority of us, I don’t think anyone should be looking to films for moral guidance. Look to your parents, your family, your teachers, your peers, wise people down the ages. Don’t look to Robert De Niro – even if he can spare the time, he’ll probably tell you to cave your enemies heads in with a baseball bat, and that is no way to conduct yourself. What would your mum and dad think?

    I agree that there aren’t enough positive central roles for women. There should be more. I still enjoyed the film though – it was deliciously warped and made me laugh.

    “are you saying a food critic can’t give a crappy burger a bad review?”

    No, no. Bad-review away. I embrace and support her freedom to do so, and it makes for entertaining conversations. So many people want to erase, banish, censor all the things they don’t like these days. A new Puritanism is in the air – can you smell it? The unpleasant odour of disinfectant. Let’s ban nothing and judge films, etc., on the basis of how entertaining they are – not what dry, moral lessons they offer. Like I said, if you’re looking to the big and small screen for moral guidance, you’re most decidedly on the wrong track.

  • Bluejay

    It’s not about getting your morality FROM films. It’s about how films (and books and music etc) can reflect the general moral values that a culture already HAS. It’s perfectly valid for film/art/culture critics to point that out.

  • Paul

    I don’t know what you can do about women in certain roles in certain genres, if you wanna stay true to reality. Most soldiers are male; victims are men, women, children, everyone. Most serial killers are male: some target men, some women, some everyone. The horror genre reflects this. Should we just not make horror films? Should they be banned? Should we make more fictional serial killers female, with male victims – or what? What’s the answer? Lots of people like horror films – male and female alike.

  • Paul

    Sure. Its also perfectly valid for films to reflect it – especially in genres where they want to stay true to reality.

  • Bluejay

    There’s a difference between characters mistreating other characters within a story, and the STORYTELLER mistreating those characters.

    MaryAnn is a fan of Game of Thrones. There are lots of women in that show who are mistreated and used as sexual objects by the men. The difference is that the STORY doesn’t treat them merely as sexual objects; they have rich inner lives and diverse, complex personalities and have motives and actions and choices. Just like the men.

  • Danielm80

    The answer is to write about women the way we write about men: Let them be dark—or light—in many different ways. Most movies have lots of different male characters with contrasting personalities. Why aren’t the female characters treated the same way?

  • Paul

    I agree that there aren’t enough interesting roles for women. Not all male roles are complex and self-actualising, however – let’s not overdo that. Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Steven Seagal, van Damme, Jason Stahham have all built their careers on being shallow and one-dimensional. Should there be more female action stars? No, I don’t think so, because I don’t think men would flock to the cinemas to see it, and I think its a genre that largely leaves women cold. I’m predicting commercial failure, unless the film is a work of astounding genius (and therein lies the real problem…). The action genre is, as I’m sure you know, immensely popular, but none of the themes on display are going to enrich your life. The horror genre is, as I’ve said, also immensely popular but, again, you shouldn’t expect too much in the way of enlightenment. I think interesting films can be made in all genres, but that takes effort, and talent, and you’ve got to please your backers, and not alienate your core fans, and plan for commercial success all the way along. It takes talent and artistic intent, when too many films are boring, and lazy, and go for the low-hanging fruit. The problem isn’t disdain for women. The problem is too many bad directors, financed by greedy philistines, making shitty product for easy cash. Fast and the Furious 27? Do f*** off.

    I don’t think The Voices is a good example of this. I think it’s an hilarious, outrageous black comedy in which the female roles are exactly as you say. Most of the men in it are doofuses. The women are, by contrast, witty, intelligent and incredibly alive – even after they stop being. It’s sad that they had to die, but they can rest easy in the knowledge that they died for something original, artistic and worthwhile. It isn’t rated at 72% on Rotten Tomatoes by accident. Most of the critics really like it – MaryAnn is in a minority. The contrast between how deranged, schizophrenic Jerry and the women saw the ‘apartment’ was eye-opening, as the true extent of Jerry’s sickness was revealed. I really enjoyed its dark humour.

  • Danielm80

    Should there be more female action stars? No, I don’t think so, because I don’t think men would flock to the cinemas to see it, and I think its a genre that largely leaves women cold.

    The Hunger Games was an action movie. It was pretty successful at the box office, three times in a row. The Divergent series seems to be doing well, too. A lot of films about women are doing well.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/23/business/media/at-the-box-office-its-no-longer-a-mans-world.html?ref=movies&_r=1

    And yet, every time a movie with a female lead is a hit, people say it’s a fluke or a mystery, even though women make up at least 50% of the human race.

    A number of successful films, like Gravity and Frozen and, I hear, The Hunger Games, are even good movies. Go figure.

  • Bluejay

    I think [action is] a genre that largely leaves women cold.

    And yet women made up 49% of the audience for Furious 7.

    http://www.etonline.com/movies/162279_furious_7_diverse_audience_could_be_responsible_for_film_huge_opening_weekend/

    Also:

    http://io9.com/the-long-list-of-successful-action-movies-starring-wome-1298632309

    You keep talking about how we shouldn’t expect action or horror films to be enriching or enlightening or have some big moral lesson. That’s not what this is about. This is about how, even in poorly written, crappy movies about shallow characters, men are still overwhelmingly the focus of the narrative. Putting more women front and center in our stories isn’t going to solve all of the other writing/directing problems you mention — those are separate issues — but it’s still worth doing anyway. And if you’re complaining about films being boring and lazy, then taking women out of their age-old supporting-role expectations and giving them more central and fully-realized characters to play would be one way for films to NOT be boring and lazy!

  • bronxbee

    action films and most other films are being driven by female audiences. several articles i have read said that the stuidos’ desired movie audience (young males 15-34) don’t want to be pinned down to one venue for their entertainment. a recent NYTimes article says:

    “Heading into the all-important summer moviegoing season, two converging box-office trends are startling studios: Women are driving ticket sales to a degree rarely, if ever, seen before, while young men — long Hollywood’s most coveted audience — are relatively AWOL.
    ***
    It would be easier to dismiss those percentages as a fluke — three big female-oriented movies just happened to arrive in proximity — if a parade of movies aimed at young men had not bombed over the same period. Among the carnage: “Jupiter Ascending,” “Seventh Son,” “Hot Tub Time Machine 2,” “Chappie” and, over the weekend, Sean Penn’s “The Gunman.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/23/business/media/at-the-box-office-its-no-longer-a-mans-world.html?_r=0
    and that’s not the only article that point it out. so action movies are not drawing young men in droves anylonger, and 60 to 70% of the audience for any new release is now female.
    so i’m gonna say “yes” there should be more female action stars.

  • Paul

    Yes, I’m all for women in more interesting, central roles. I’m also all for inventive dark comedies like The Voices. When I watch a film about a deranged killer I’m not expecting to see anything with a progressive agenda. A kinder, gentler, more humane kind of serial killer. I think not. Nevertheless, its a great film.

    Over and out. I’ll pop back again the next time MaryAnn let’s her particular sensibilities cloud her good judgement. ʘ‿ʘ

  • Paul

    K, k. I’m just happy to see good films, I don’t much care who’s in the starring role. If more women cinemagoers are going to put an end to the constant parade of stultifying, brain-dead, male action films, I’m jumping for joy. Jason Statham and all involved in the Fast/Furious series should be rounded up and pushed off a cliff.

  • Bluejay

    A kinder, gentler, more humane kind of serial killer. I think not.

    You keep missing the point.

    Silence of the Lambs is a great movie about a serial killer (two of them, in fact). See any difference in how the story depicts women, in that film versus this one?

  • Paul

    I get the point. It’s not difficult. I just don’t expect films to conform to a particular agenda. I don’t mind seeing women killed in great numbers – as long as the film’s good. Which this one is.

  • Lots of people in films get treated badly. Men and women, both black and white.

    Sure. But men — and in particular white men — ALSO get to fill all the other roles in films the vast majority of the time. Everyone else is subordinated to the needs of white men’s stories.

    I appreciate that you’d like us to ignore the ugly stuff, and only make films (and TV, and games) that show men and women, and children and horses, living fulfilling, meaningful lives.

    Bullshit. I have NEVER said any such thing. Find some evidence that I have. You can’t.

    if I felt they were trying to lecture me, I’d be really, REALLY, hair-tearingly, plate-smashingly, incontinently angry

    So, any movie with a protagonist who isn’t white and male is *lecturing* you?

  • Your blinders are astonishing, and all the more so because you don’t even seem to realize you are wearing them.

    A movie about a serial killer could have a female cop, journalist, or even a victim as the protagonist, rather than the killer. Women have war stories, even if they’re not soldiers. (You think civilians are not impacted by war?) There are plenty of good, fun, entertaining stories that could have women at their center. Because *women are people.*

    Please stop talking about “banning.” No one is talking about banning anything.

  • Not all male roles are complex and self-actualising

    You insist on continuing to miss the point. Not, at all male roles are complex. But far more ARE than women get. Men get all the roles from smart to stupid. Women get to stand around and make them look good or help them improve themselves.

    I don’t think men would flock to the cinemas to see it,

    Guess what? Not everything is about what men want.

    The women are, by contrast, witty, intelligent and incredibly alive – even after they stop being.

    Don’t put women on a pedestal. Women are not perfect. We are flawed human beings with our own personal struggles. We all — male and female — deserve to see women’s stories too.

    You do NOT placate me by telling me how awesome all these subordinate women are. They are still subordinate.

  • Women’s lives are not an “agenda.”

    I don’t mind seeing women killed in great numbers

    Lucky for you: Movies are very obliging.

  • Paul

    ‘Women’s lives are not an “agenda.”‘

    You seem to be having some trouble distinguishing reality from fiction. In the spririt of the Microsoft paperclip: can I help? The movement to make the entertainment industry conform to the political outlook of a narrow, judgemental minority is most definitely an agenda. All lovers of freedom should resist it. I’m as liberal and progressive as you are, but I want political interferers to stay OUT of the entertainment industry. I want people to make the best art they can, without concessions to some narrow-minded focus group.

  • Paul

    I’m not trying to placate you in any way. Neither do I put women on pedestals. That you think my comments are directed at you when you weren’t even present shows extraordinary narcissism. I don’t think you’re cut out to be a critic. Bored with this now.

  • Paul

    And there are plenty that do. This is ridiculous. Stuff your quotas. Try reviewing films as artistic creations, rather than as a vehicle for your politicial ambitions. Goodbye.

  • Bluejay

    And there are plenty that do.

    Not nearly enough. Be honest: If 88% of movies were about women, and only 12% were about men, wouldn’t you sit up and say, “Hey wait a minute, how come I’m seeing so few men in movies?”

    Because the reverse is what’s actually true right now. Only 12% of last year’s movies had women in the lead roles.

    http://variety.com/2015/film/news/women-lead-roles-in-movies-study-hunger-games-gone-girl-1201429016/

    They just want to watch good films, and that’s that.

    Good! So you’ll have no problem if more films put women at their center, then.

  • Bluejay

    I want political interferers to stay OUT of the entertainment industry.

    Oh, is there pending legislation mandating a gender quota? I hadn’t heard of it. As far as I know, we’re all just here expressing our opinions. That’s okay, right?

    72% of Rotten Tomatoes critics seem… to be able to judge a good film when they see one.

    So “majority rules” in subjective art criticism? I don’t think so.

  • Bluejay

    Bored with this now.

    There’s an easy solution: stop replying.

  • Paul

    “Be honest: If 88% of movies were about women, and only 12% were about men, wouldn’t you sit up and say, “Hey wait a minute, how come I’m seeing so few men in movies?””

    No.

    “Good! So you’ll have no problem if more films put women at their center, then.”

    No. Like most people, I honestly couldn’t give a toss as long as the film is made with love, and not factory-produced dross. Anyone more interested in the quotas than the quality of the finished product – case in point – should probably get a different hobby.

  • Itay Bitan

    I wonder if you criticized Gone Girl as a man hating drama?
    Have you ever criticized a movie with serious violence towards only men for man-hating?
    Let me answer that obvious question – no. You have never uttered the words man-hater at on film violence. I guarantee it.

    Furthermore this is a movie about a lonely schizophrenic man. If he were gay, it would be men hed be doing the exact same thing too.

    .. and yes, they make you feel bad for him, because they make sure to portray his life as circumstances beyond his control. He is mentally ill.. and guess what? There is a reason society tries to put the bad men in jail and sick men in hospitals that can help them.

    If anything, your mocking mental illness as if its something to be disregarded.

  • Itay Bitan

    .. but have you ever used the words “man-hating”?

  • Itay Bitan

    Hope you never watch Silence of the Lambs then.

  • Bluejay

    Like most people, I honestly couldn’t give a toss as long as the film is made with love

    Again: good! Then you don’t have to worry your head about anything. Let the rest of us who care about such “tedious” things continue to advocate for less misogyny in films, and more and better representation of women — which will STILL result in good movies, as you yourself acknowledge. Just sit back with your popcorn and let the good movies come your way.

  • I’ll say it again: Women are not a “narrow-minded focus group.”

  • What quotas?

    Why is this topic so threatening to you?

  • Stop it with the strawmen. NO ONE is interested in or talking about quotas.

  • I wonder if you criticized Gone Girl as a man hating drama?

    You could try reading my review.

    But nice “What about the menz?!”

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    I liked it, actually.

    Two very different films.

  • LaSargenta

    Hey, this is as good a place as any: Any luck with the kitten mod in disqus?

  • NaturalCuresSaveLives

    Most people aren’t aware that they are being conditioned to kill since birth. With million of images of violence now before most people can walk and talk now. No hope of being a kinder more gentler nation as Bush once proclaimed. It seem that the cultural climate is much crueler and much more violent than ever. Why is this promoted in our society? Because war is one of the biggest profit centers on the planet next to medical. And war and violence causes a lot of medical bills. So does teaching the next generation to become isolated deranged killers. People have already become disconnected from one another because most people prefer to interact on their phones now or through other media. This is not bad when love, togetherness, and peace are permeated throughout our society. There is absolutely no question in my mind as to what is causing violence and the desensitization of it. With babies being able to virtually decapitate someone on their older siblings video game before they learn to walk and talk…people should at least acknowledge and accept the fact that we are breeding killers and violent desensitized calloused individuals for the purpose of perpetuating the never ending cycle of violence that continues to fund the two biggest profit centers on the planet…..at the expense and suffering of everyone. Why don’t we just call the sequel. How to become a woman hating cereal killer recluse? And whats up with the pink uniforms and constant homosexual slurs throughout the entire film? Kind of adds to the women hating Norman Bates kind of theme. We need to start making anti violence, peace loving, sensitivity awareness, decent human being training going on to offset this poison that is seeping into the innocent young minds of our world who we know will emulate whatever they see their role models do in the movies. Yes, he will become a role model to some very lonely, isolated, neglected, abused children. Beyond this our biggest problem in society is apathy, bar none.

  • NaturalCuresSaveLives

    This entire movie is proof that our society has reached a very dangerous disgusting and degrading level of desensitization. I’m shocked that people are okay with films like this being promoted in our society and they probably aren’t aware of the grave consequences of this. Ever wonder why a cereal killer is able to go hack someone up in their living room with a butcher knife …and then go in their kitchen and make themselves a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? One Word..Desensitization!!!! Ever wonder how the Nazzi’s were able to take their lunch breaks after committing atrocity after disgusting atrocity??? I think their is a definite mass desensitization program going on and we all need to be conscientiously aware of it before it gets to the point where someone is hacking YOU up in the middle of the street and your neighbors just go inside their homes to have dinner and call it a night!!!.We are really not far off from this mentality when you see movies like this. Wake up and realize why Coke and Pepsi continue to advertise when everyone on the planet knows who they are. They spend billions because studies have proven over and over that people are directly affected by what they see in film and on TV. So much so that they know it can positively change your behavior over time. Its enough of an impact that these advertisers and more continue to spend billions to condition you into certain buying habits and behaviors that will ultimately do one thinking. Create profit. Violence does create medical bills. War mentality creates astounding profits and war has been one of the biggest profit centers on the planet next to medical. Violence causes a lot of medical bills so yes their is a profit motive to promote war vs peace. If your sitting at home well? Is their profit created? It is sad fact that money does make the world go round and unfortunately for the people we haven’t figured out how to reverse this profit cycle. If we could figure out how to create profit out of peace and good health. We would all have optimal health happiness and well being.

  • Ever wonder why a cereal killer is able to go hack someone up in their living room with a butcher knife …and then go in their kitchen and make themselves a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

    It’s not because he watched a movie.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Well, cereal killers are kinda flakey.

  • bronxbee

    yeah, they snap at any comments crackle when they carry all the plastic to wrap the bodies, and pop off at the least provocation.

  • Joseph Petersen

    Oh look.. a feminist whackjob is labeling a movie “Woman Hating”. In other news, man lands on the moon. Oh no.. I should have said “person”.. now I’m just being a misogynist.

  • rambo231

    There’s plenty of movies about women kicking men’s asses or killing men these days. Next time watch the movie trailer, or read the synopsis before you watch something, if you know it’s not your cup of tea. Such a childish review, no matter how well written.

  • There’s plenty of movies about women kicking men’s asses or killing men these days.

    No, there really aren’t. And even if there were, it would be irrelevant to my review.

    Next time watch the movie trailer, or read the synopsis before you watch something, if you know it’s not your cup of tea.

    Do you understand what film critics do?

  • Daniela Petruzalek

    MaryAnn… I did enjoy your point of view until you said that bullshit about transgender women. You disrespected all trans women with that comment.

    We are not men, we born in the wrong body and we live the hell to make it right. You can’t even imagine all the suffering we have to endure to be ourselves. You think “women” suffer? Try to be a trans women for a bit and you will know what is real suffering and prejudice.

    You were indignated by how women are treated in this film. You treated us even worse in our comment. We suffer all the bias towards women and also the bias for being trans… Even women like you have prejudice towards us and that comment was just another proof of that fact.

    But guess what, we don’t need your acceptance. We are women. We suffer, we hurt, we bleed, but it is worth it. We are nothing less than pursuing our right to have our identities and we will get it, either you wanting it or not.

    At least I hope you can learn something about us with this comment: you want respect? Try respecting others for a change and maybe you will get it.

    PS.: I hated this movie as well, but you pissed me off with your transphobic comment.

  • Bluejay

    I think what MaryAnn is saying is that HOLLYWOOD thinks that stories about trans women are really stories about men, which is why they make more films and tv shows about trans women rather than trans men. (She’s not saying that this is okay.) Look again at this Wikipedia list of movies about trans people; the list of movies about trans men is much shorter than the list of movies about trans women. MaryAnn is pointing out a HOLLYWOOD bias, not showing her own.

  • Danielm80

    I agree with you, and I “upvoted” MaryAnn’s original comment. But her phrasing did bother me. We’re getting into really delicate territory here, because gender identity is always complicated. When we’re talking about a character who identifies as a woman, then saying, “But she’s played by a man” sounds a little reductive. It’s obviously true, but it comes across as insensitive—at least, it did to me. I’m glad she clarified the statement later on.

  • Bluejay

    When we’re talking about a character who identifies as a woman, then saying “But she’s played by a man” sounds a little reductive.

    But MAJ didn’t say that, nor did I take it that way. Her criticism wasn’t that male actors are playing trans women (and it’s not always true anyway; according to the Wikipedia list, many films about trans women actually have actresses in those roles). Her argument was that characters who started out as biologically male get to have more stories told about them as complex human beings, more so and more often than characters who started out biologically female — because of Hollywood’s bias in favor of characters that they see as fundamentally male. (But, again, that’s an attitude that may be changing for the better.)

  • RogerBW

    As a side note, I think that there’s still an assumption that if you have a trans* in your film the story is going to be about their trans-ness, much as until a few years ago having a homosexual character meant the story was going to be about their homosexuality. That seems to be changing, and a good thing too.

  • I think you missed the difference between me saying something transphobic — which I did — and referencing Hollywood’s attitudes about trans people.

  • Daniela Petruzalek

    No matter how many times I read your phrase: “For Christ’s sake, there have even been movies about men who get pregnant; men who think they are women or live as women or who actually transition to women (…)”

    I always get the same interpretation: you are treating trans women as men. That’s transphobic. No other interpretation is possible… It was not hollywood who said (written) it, you did!

    You were also disrespectful to trans men by the very same reasons. Please, refrain from doing comments about other people’s gender identities if you don’t understand the subject… You end up only hurting people for nothing. Our lives are already hard enough.

    And for Hollywood’s preference for transwomen vs transmen, that’s a much bigger subject that I believe doesn’t fit this thread. It’s enough saying that this is a global problem, not something particular to Hollywood or any type of movies.

  • Daniela Petruzalek

    She is showing her own bias as she has written: “For Christ’s sake, there have even been movies about men who get pregnant; men who think they are women or live as women or who actually transition to women”.

    If you don’t see that as a transphobic comment and you do believe you are a supporter/friend of the transgender cause please study more.

    That was ***extremely*** disrespectful, enough for me to register to this site just to point this out. I’m tired of seeing the media, journalists, columnists, or anybody to treat us like that.

    You have born in the right gender… you can’t even imagine how hard is NOT to born on the right gender. We endure a lot of pain to correct this… for what? For people keep treating us by the wrong gender? I’m sorry, but I can’t stand this anymore. People need to understand that we are born this way and the least that you can do is treat us by our right gender.

  • Danielm80

    Yeah, my comment about awkward phrasing was phrased pretty awkwardly. That probably qualifies as cheap irony.

    MaryAnn’s comment obviously wasn’t meant to be transphobic. It was about sexism in Hollywood. But she talked about trans characters in the middle of a list that also includes pregnant men and men dressed “comically” in women’s clothing. The implication was: This is a list of men. And for some trans characters, at least, that’s not a list where they belong. They are, fundamentally, women, no matter what their biology was at birth.

    MaryAnn, I’m sure, knows that, and very much respects people’s gender identities. But the phrasing seemed to imply–to me–that the characters were men first, no matter how they might dress or live.

    Her later comments clarified what she actually meant: That Hollywood loves stories about men and likes to adopt that frame even when it makes no sense. But the original phrasing was still awkward (a phenomenon I’m very familiar with).

  • Bluejay

    If… you do believe you are a supporter/friend of the transgender cause please study more.

    I agree. I do want to be supportive, and I’m always working to reduce my blind spots. Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective.

  • If I expressed myself poorly in a hastily composed comment, I apologize. I promise you, I am agree with everything you’ve written here about trans people.

    But if you think that Hollywood was treating the people in the sorts of movies I was referring to as women, you are deluding yourself.

  • Daniela Petruzalek

    Apology accepted.

    I never said that I do or do not think that transwomen are correctly represented on the movies. Basically I don’t have an opinion formed about that because I don’t watch trans-themed movies.

    Why? Like RogerBW said, movies that have trans characters nowadays are usually centered towards their “trans-ness”. I don’t want to see a movie about that, my life is already about that.

    When they start making movies where trans characters are just characters then I will watch it… but then it also won’t matter if the character is trans or not. And hopefully we will get there someday. I want to see trans people just like that, being treated as people.

    Just to name a good example, I love the way Orange is the new Black represent trans people with the Sophia Burset character. She seems way more real than any other movie or tv show representation I’ve seen so far. And its a show that I enjoy just because it does not put her transness at the center of the plot.

  • I want to see trans people just like that, being treated as people.

    Me too. But we are, unfortunately, a long way from there, I suspect.

  • Blinkerest

    The KKK actually hunted down and discriminated against a physical characteristic. The main character in the movie killed the people who saw his dark side, they just all happened to be women.

    Sure, he initially hunted Lisa, but who among all the characters would most likely not resist being brought to his parent’s house? Obviously the girl infatuated with him. Everyone else just kept him at arm’s length.

    Also I’m not really sure why it’s a big deal there was a dance number in heaven in the end. The guy deludes himself that the pigsty he lives in is a brightly lit clean home, deluding himself that he ends up in heaven where everyone is happy seems to be in-line with all his delusions.

  • shauna

    I don’t like this movie either, but you sure lack all depth and insight that makes an intelligent and worthwhile critic, I seem to have stumbled into the stupid part of the internet again, goodbye.

  • What depth and insight did I miss in my review?

  • Beth3000

    I think because you were so caught up in being offended you actually missed the point of the film. The idea is NOT that we are supposed to feel bad for poor Jerry who likes to butcher women and believe that he just accidentally did these deeds. Rather, the point is that we get to spend some time in the head of a person who has schizophrenia and has become violent. The “accidental” death of the first victim is only accidental from the perspective of the consciousness of Jerry because that is how he justifies it to himself and convinces himself that he isn’t a horrible person. Of course, the voices of the dog and cat (in a rather brilliant move, voiced by Reynolds since they ARE Jerry) represent his subconscious desires and battles and help enlighten the viewer (and Jerry, himself – if he’ll listen) as to the reality beyond the happy, pink fantasy world severed human heads cheerily chat away and don’t rot and stink. The cat tells Jerry that of course he meant to kill Fiona. Why else did he bring the knife? The cat reminds Jerry that he kills because he gets a thrill from killing, regardless of whatever stories he might tell himself to assuage his own guilt. The reason the cat is more convincing than the dog is because both voices are Jerry, his subconscious understanding of himself and his actions projected onto his beloved pets and Jerry’s more diabolical impulses are stronger than the monitoring mechanism in his mind that is supposed to keep him from acting upon his darkest desires. In other words, he has a conscience but it is a weak one. A general familiarity with true cases of serial killers demonstrates that the depiction in this film was not a bad one, evocative of David Berkowitz’s claims that his neighbor’s dog told him to kill. By placing the blame outside the self, the killer is able to live with himself and justify his own worth. If you view this film as what it is like to be inside Jerry’s head, then this makes sense. Of course the depiction is sympathetic; we are seeing the protagonist through his own eyes and the only way he can live with himself is to make himself believe that, deep down, he really isn’t such a bad guy. He likes people! He’s friendly! He plans great office events that foster camaraderie!

    As for the heads in the refrigerator, I thought it was a rather brilliant use of Kristevan abjection on Santrapi’s part. The women are the literal trope of the “girlfriend(s) in the refrigerator.” As a feminist, I would think you would understand the symbolism and that’s Santrapi (as a woman in the world of comics/graphic novels) was being quite intentional in her use of that symbolism.

    Finally, I find it rather interesting that you justify your own inability to fairly analyze the film by referencing another fictional murderer – Amy Dunne, the sociopathic protagonist/antagonist of the novel (and subsequent film) Gone Girl. Amy, like Jerry, must justify her own actions to herself. Her husband deserved to be framed! Her parents imbued her with a complex because she was never good enough for them and they had to create a fictional version of her (the “amazing” version) to love! She was totally justified in faking her own rape and torture and murdering a man because how else could she possibly reenter her old life? Besides, Desi was creepy and controlling! He deserved it!

    As in Gone Girl, The Voices takes us into the mind of a psychologically disturbed person and has us view that person’s crimes through THEIR eyes.

    If you are having difficulty seeing that, then maybe you need to look past your own rage before you write a review.

  • Er, I didn’t like Gone Girl either. Here’s that review for you.

  • Beth3000

    I actually read your review of Gone Girl (albeit after I wrote this) and commented on it. I didn’t like the movie although I did enjoy the book. It was one of those times I was truly sorely disappointed in the film adaptation of a novel I loved. The other time was with Memoirs of a Geisha – loved the novel, thought the film did an awful job fleshing out the characters.

    I am curious, however, about your response to the points I make in this comment overall. I interpreted this film quite differently than you did and thought I made some very valid points challenging your perspective. I would like to see your response to those points.

  • You wrote:

    you justify your own inability to fairly analyze the film

    and

    maybe you need to look past your own rage

    which does not predispose me to want to respond to your comment.

    I suggest you read the other comments here, which deal with most of what you have to say.

    You might also read the score section on my Where Are the Women? rating for this film.

  • Tomboy

    I thought this film was a pretty decent satire of mental illness. Right down to the “just take a pill and you’ll be fine” approach that Jerry’s lazy psychiatrist employs.

    My teenage daughter and I are a huge fan of black comedy, which is usually in pretty poor taste. We like that sort of thing. My sons, not so much. We thought the dog and cat duo in this film were hilarious.

    Early on Jerry tells his psychiatrist that taking the pills might get rid of the bad parts of his life, but it also gets rid of the good parts too. It numbs everything (a common real life complaint). Then, Jerry’s cat says, “The psychiatrist doesn’t care if you’re happy, she just wants you to be obedient.” And that’s the point. We all do what we have to to be happy. For most of us that’s not murder, but it’s usually smaller nasty things.

    I don’t think the humour in this film is coming from the fact that women are misogynistically being slaughtered, it’s coming from Jerry’s mental illness and the increasingly ridiculous ways he finds beauty in the darkness. We all find beauty in insane things, whether it’s silly religious beliefs, or petty gossip that hurts others we couldn’t care less about. Heck, the majority of people seem to enjoy attacking complete strangers over the internet with vicious posts. Why? I don’t know.

    Early on in the movie, Jerry says, in shock, “I’m evil.” The humour in this movie comes from viewers, tired of watching the usual sentimental movies, who say, “Yes Jerry, we all are.”

    Just my opinion :) It’s OK if we disagree :)

  • Tomboy

    Jerry is faced with a very serious question early on. He can keep taking the pills and being unhappy, or he can try and find happiness the only way he knows how -through insanity and murder. Happiness is the #1 priority to people. Jerry does what most people do: he puts his own happiness above others, because there’s no point in living if you’re not happy. Fortunately for most people in real life, they don’t have to commit murder to be happy, but almost everyone does behave cruelly at times for their own happiness and they don’t give it a second thought. Jerry isn’t a likeable character, he’s just an insane one, whose insanity amplifies the cruel traits all humans have, while poking fun at how society believes that a couple of pills will fix everything.

  • Tomboy

    Just one more thing :)

    In the end, Jerry finds happiness from his mental illness only in death -his well respected psychiatrist couldn’t provide it to him, but yet she’ll continue to be trusted to help others. The ending “happy” song is very much similar to REMs “Shiny, Happy People”, which is also satirical.

  • HimMan

    I am man. I agree with review. But I must defend filmmaker to some extent. The pink POV of main character is reflection of inside serial killer head. They live blissful without pesky guilt or emotion. The juxtaposition was meant to invoke terror not laughs me think. But me do think script did no favor for film when they kill Anna Kendrick. Perhaps better film if she kill him at end, or he let her…or he kill himself for her. The end was poor which leave bad taste in mouth for many. But perhaps film wanted to say that there is no redemption for serial killer. They live in a false sense of reality.

    There was sex undertone to killing for sure. Perhaps if character was gay, killing men, it would be received better. The character would of suited gay culture me thinks. I think gay community would laugh at the black humor then but the women killed in this story is quite insensitive to the real psycho-sexual serial killings that happen mostly upon women. Just the facts. So can understand why it is not laughed at by female community.

  • Margo

    If this got a 0 star, and Return To Sender got a .5 star, why is this film above?

  • Kt1

    Thank you for writing this review. I just watched this film with no idea what it was actually about. By the singing and dancing at the end I felt completely blown away. How could the two reviews I skimmed over (and the high ratings) be referring to this mysoginist freakshow? What planet (Hollywood – with 0 to negative social/political awareness?) would an artist have to be living on to think for a millisecond this could be okay today? Thanks again for the review!

  • Ty

    You give social justice a bad name

  • Ty

    Funny I registered just to mention what a twat you come across as. You are, seriously, just awful. You make all progressives’ jobs harder with your weakly directed anger. You attack your friend because you know their heart. You know how to take advantage of guilt you won’t find on your true enemy’s side.
    I feel bad that your existence leads you to sharpen your ego and self worth against the compassion of allies.

  • Not necessary.

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