A shy reclusive lady is convinced by an invisible entity to sing. Subsequently, she finds herself noticed by a sleazy talent agent and her talent being showcased on-stage. She also meets a kind but nervous man who becomes her best friend.
The pathetically shy LV lives the life of a recluse listening to her late father's old records in her room and in the process driving her abusive, loud-mouthed mother, Mari Hoff, to distraction. At night, however, when her father's ghost visits, LV sings the songs of the great divas such as Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe and Shirley Bassey. One evening LV is overheard by one of her mother's loathsome boyfriends, the disastrous dead-end talent scout Ray Say, who recognizes her innate talent and realizes this is his last big chance for the glittering prizes. Gambling everything Ray Say forces LV to appear at a local run-down, seedy night club run by Mr. Boo. As preparations for the big event proceed apace LV meets the equally shy Billy, a pigeon-racing telephone engineer and they form a tentative, gentle friendship. The big night finally arrives and everything is in readiness, the band, the club and even a big agent from London, but what about LV?Written by
Mark Smith <email@example.com>
Special Thanks to ... Jason Wheeler and Team, ... Staff at St. Nicholas Hotel, Wreahead Hotel and East Ayton Lodge, ... The People of Scarborough ... North Yorkshire Police (Scarborough Department), Scarborough Borough Council, South Bay Traders Association, Haven Holidays (Cayton Bay), Stephen Joseph Theatre. See more »
Little Voice is much more than simply a star vehicle for Jane Horrocks.
It is a very clever translation of a stage play to the screen, which preserves the theatricality of the original by deliberately cartoon-like design and construction of shot, and through calculatedly large acting performances. (Anyone who has seen Michael Caine's TV masterclass on film acting, which consisted largely of advice to reduce every effect to an absolute minimum, will be amused by the sheer scale of his performance in this movie.)
It is a very English movie, in that it shows something of the oppressive decay of an English seaside town. Scarborough is in fact one of the prettier Northern resorts, as some of the external shots in the movie show, but the buildings and interiors could have been shipped directly from the grottier parts of Blackpool. I could smell the rancid chip fat.
It is a fine demonstration of the power of popular songs. When LV sings "Over the Rainbow" in imitation of Judy Garland, anyone with any musical sense will be moved. As Noel Coward said, it's strange how potent cheap music can be.
Contrary to the impression given by some reviewers (doesn't anyone read film credits these days?), Jane Horrocks does not sing every number in the soundtrack. Listen to the original Shirley Bassey belting out "Goldfinger" as Michael Caine (Ray Say) sits in the betting shop punting precious money for LV's launch concert on some three-legged nag. Horrocks is brave to compete with the originals in this way, and she is far from shamed by the comparison.
Unfortunately, Little Voice has some annoying flaws. As in an English seaside postcard of the 1930s, fat people are funny. Why? Because they're fat. Pigs, actually. Roll on the movie where a tubby gets to belt out a Judy Garland torch song.
Horrocks is extraordinary, but all the other actors in the film turn in first rate performances. Jim Broadbent as the seedy nightclub owner and failed comic Mr Boo is brilliant - sad, hopeless and hilarious. Brenda Blethyn as the raucous tart and abusive mother Mari is repulsive and cruel, but also pathetic. Ms Blethyn's performances often annoy me, but to attain the heights of Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford - in a movie that is actually good - is quite an achievement. Michael Caine as clapped out agent Ray Say ranges from vulgarity to charm to vicious selfishness with utter conviction and apparently without effort. He cannot sing a note, but his raging punk rendition of Roy Orbison's "It's Over" reduced the nightclub audience in the movie, and the cinema audience at the Odeon West End, to jaw-dropping silence.
This movie is grand guignol crossed with a postcard by Eric Gill. It is "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" with great songs and North Yorkshire accents. And yes, Horrock's impressions are wonderful. Little Voice is not just a star vehicle, but she surely is a star.
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