Film Review Hotline

FILM OF THE MONTH

Selected from the February 1999 Film Review

Jane Horrocks - that's not a Little Voice
LITTLE VOICE5 Stars

In this issue: Jane Horrocks, Michael Caine and Ewan McGregor all discuss the best film to start 1999!

STARS: Brenda Blethyn, Michael Caine, Jane Horrocks, Ewan McGregor
DIRECTOR: Mark HermanSCREENPLAY: Mark Herman
CERTIFICATE: 12DISTRIBUTOR and Picture copyright:Buena Vista
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 36 minsOPENING DATE (UK): January 8

Stars in her eyes.

Cleverly opened up from Jim Cartwright’s West End stage hit The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Mark Herman’s smart and rousing success does for wannabe divas what his Brassed Off did for brass bands. Finally allowing the talented Horrocks to strut her star quality stuff in a proper film showcase, this bittersweet working-class comedy also provides Caine with his best role in years. Aside from some heavy-handed symbolism contained in a romantic sub-plot with racing pigeon fanatic McGregor, Herman’s big hearted chronicle of multi-faceted despair is a first class act all the way.

Ab Fab’s Bubble plays Laura or LV, the Little Voice of the title, a repressed young woman living in a Northern seaside town with her vulgar motormouth mother Mari Hoff (Blethyn). Ever since the death of her beloved father, LV has become a hermit, sitting alone in her bedroom and mimicking the musical show-stoppers from his adored vinyl record collection. From Shirley Bassey to Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland to Marlene Dietrich, LV can superbly sing all their best known numbers.

When Mari starts romancing Ray Say (Caine), the ageing talent scout sees his final chance for big impresario success in LV’s talents. Persuading local club owner Mr Boo (Jim Broadbent) to give LV her moment in the spotlight, and putting himself in hock with some very shady characters, the stage is set for the Big Night. All Ray has to do is convince LV she can do it, and then convince her again to do it twice nightly. What happens when LV does indeed stun the audience with her brilliance and how it irrevocably changes all their lives in unexpected ways is eloquently purveyed by Herman’s assured direction and a marvellous cast.

In a hugely enjoyable movie spanning high emotion and broad farce, Horrocks is the charismatic linchpin. She’s fantastic in the cabaret act that comes two-thirds of the way through and the fact she did it live, using her own very big voice, is testament indeed to her gutsy range and amazing charm. Her character counterpoint is Blethyn who takes blowsy to a limit never seen before in her outrageously coarse portrayal of despondent middle age on the sexual Titanic.

But it’s Caine who astonishes anew with a richly grand-standing turn as the down-at-heel agent desperate for the fame and fortune that has always eluded him. When he sings the Roy Orbison classic It’s Over at the finale as his small world crashes down for the last time, he puts the whole agony and ecstasy of his life in sharp and painful perspective. A masterful performance in a great film brimming over with scintilating pleasures.

Alan Jones

Little Voice photo copyright Buena Vista
Read our massive new reviews section in this month's Film Review
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