Selective Listening (2015) – By Misty Layne


Life is difficult enough as is. We’re constantly badgered by voices telling us we’re “too this” or “too that” from all angles. Imagine living with those voices quite literally in your head, in the form of schizophrenia. That’s what our protagonist in Selective Listening is trying to deal with on a daily basis.

“An optimistic guy with a history of schizophrenia, battles the diverse and unpredictable voices he hears, a judgmental society and the hazards of social media as he attempts to make a new friend. One method he uses to manage the voices is to assign each of them a physical presence — his childhood toys.”

If you’re lucky enough to live life without a mental illness, congratulations. It ain’t easy all the time. It’s one reason I dig Selective Listening. While it’s a comedy overall and never gets too, too serious, it does take a look at how society views and treats mentally ill people in a realistic and truthful way. Well, as realistic as you can get with a bunch of talking toys hanging around, that is.

Our guy, Harrison, is a loner with schizophrenia – loner not so much by choice but by consequence. He has 5 (I believe) voices in his head at all times ranging from a concerned motherly woman to a misogynistic murderer. It makes for an interesting mix. He gets home visits from a therapist or someone but otherwise is on his own. He’s not a fan of his medication (one of his voices tells him it’s poison) so he does his best to manage what’s happening in his head his own way.

The majority of the film is Harrison surrounded by a bunch of dolls, which sounds kind of boring, but isn’t. Each doll definitely has its own unique personality and while a couple of them made me somewhat uncomfortable (ahem, Mr. Misogyny), overall they were quite amusing. Watching Harrison struggle was much less amusing but also a fascinating look into what it might be like for someone who hears voices. Eventually Harrison discovers a social media site, and on there he discovers a younger woman in her 20s with whom he becomes mildly obsessed with becoming real life friends. So does he become friends with her? Or anyone? Guess you’ll have to watch and see!

And you won’t be sorry that you do. I really liked Salvatore Stella’s performance as Harrison. He never played it over the top, which would have been incredibly easy to do, and was such a sympathetic character. Also BIG ups to all the voice actors because they were fabulous – absolutely fabulous.

Not going to lie, I was a bit wary going into this one because of the sensitive nature of the topic but minus some of Smiling Herbert a.k.a. Mr. Misogynistic Murderer’s comments, I enjoyed it very much. Lighthearted with just the right amount of seriousness, Selective Listening is a wonderfully quirky little film. Check the film’s website to learn more and find out where to watch and follow them on Facebook & Twitter!