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LITTLE VOICE

SYNOPSIS:
She is called LV - Little Voice (Jane Horrocks) – the softly spoken daughter of a loud-mouth widow mum, Mari (Brenda Blethyn). LV’s only companion is the photo of her dear dead dad and the collection of old LP records he left her, heavy on Shirley Bassey, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland – all of whom have become a part of LV’s repertoire. She not only sings along with them, she impersonates them. Splendidly – but no-one knows. Until Ray Say (Michael Caine) starts romancing Mari downstairs and hears her. Ray is a small time talent agent and he sees Little Voice as his big chance, and bullies LV into a stage appearance at the local club. There is nothing LV wants less. Meanwhile, phone technician and pigeon fancier Billy (Ewan McGregor) takes a shine to LV, although the prospects aren’t good.

"A strange film this; unique is perhaps more accurate, pitching from farce to pathos, from heavy handed situation comedy to profound drama (as did Herman’s Brassed Off). The central character, Little Voice (Jane Horrocks) is a well drawn, complex young woman whose life has been sucked dry by a combination of her innately shy personality, the death of her loving, gentle father and the shallow, overbearing antics of her widowed mother. Her only companions in the upstairs room of the family home is a photo of her dad and the record collection he left her, to which she listens every waking moment, to her mother’s chagrin. The revelation of LV’s secret – her ability to mimick these singing stars – is nicely teased out, and the relationships that spin around her strong, silent persona, give the film its emotional pulp. There is more to the miming than novelty…. Horrocks’ sublime performance gives us LV’s undulating character superbly, and the confusion of emotions that Mark Herman engages is seriously impressive. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but it is always devoid of manipulative devices, and we can readily understand each of the characters, flaws and all. Very satisfying in its bizarre way, Little Voice is a striking and refreshing film worth the adventure."
Andrew L. Urban

"Jim Cartwright’s play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice was written specifically to showcase Jane Horrocks’ incredible vocal talents. This fine film adaptation of the play is something of a curate’s egg. By turns bleak, funny, moving, puzzling and dazzling, Little Voice is never less than engaging - and at its finest, it’s brilliant. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but feel that something may have been lost in the translation to the screen. Two of the vital characters, LV and Billy, seemed rather under-developed. Perhaps that’s because they’re overshadowed by some of the other characters. Mari and Ray are so brash, so larger-than-life, they’re almost grotesques; and Mr. Boo is very much an archetype. But the performances are great. Brenda Blethyn and Michael Caine are so unlikeable as the selfish Mari and the sleazy Ray, you just love to hate them. Ewan McGregor is far removed from his role in Velvet Goldmine, and plays Billy with a subdued restraint. Little Voice has some wonderful moments both musical and dramatic - the scene near the end where Ray tells Mari "how it is" is a stand-out. But Horrocks is the heart of the film and she makes it her own. While her impressions of famous singers are amazing, her acting performance is also powerful. You can almost feel her pain in some of the scenes. Although you’ll have to stay with it, this is an affecting and ultimately rewarding film."
David Edwards

"England’s answer to Strictly Ballroom, this Cinderella story combines the magic bliss of old Hollywood musicals with the grotesque class comedy central to British and Australian cinema alike – seen at its worst in Brenda Blethyn’s screeching turn as a blowsy tart (wicked stepmother and ugly sister in one). Luckily the other supporting cast members (like Michael Caine and Jim Broadbent) are mostly excellent, while Jane Horrocks is a graceful eccentric who can play a gawky wallflower without coyness and without forcing the viewer into cringing embarrassment. And her singing is, truly, amazing. It’s a shock, as well as a delight, when pouring out of this waif come the powerhouse voices of Judy Garland or Shirley Bassey: sounds and emotions rich and slick as treacle, sultry, corny, brazenly intimate. The dislocating, near-pornographic effect recalls the queasy use of nostalgic tunes made by Dennis Potter or David Lynch. ‘It’s private!’ LV quavers, horrified that anyone should trespass on the treasured space she shares with her songs and her dead father; and surely many moviegoers can relate to this closely guarded, shameful, obsessive love. On the other hand, with her elfin looks and uncanny gifts LV seems weirdly unknowable, a kind of mutant (pushed too far, she starts scarily gabbling out scraps of lyrics and dialogue like a crazy broken jukebox). In many ways this is a crude and traditional movie, but its feelgood dynamic is irresistible, and it strikes some unexpected notes that turn out to be very moving."
Jake Wilson

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

LITTLE VOICE (M)
(UK)

CAST: Jane Horrocks, Michael Caine, Brenda Blethyn, Jim Broadbent, Ewan McGregor

DIRECTOR: Mark Herman

PRODUCER: Elizabeth Karlsen

SCRIPT: Mark Herman (based on the play by Jim Cartwright)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andy Collins

EDITOR: Mike Ellis ACE

MUSIC: John Altman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Don Taylor

RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 14,1999







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