Little Voice (Horrocks) is a young woman who suffers from serious introversion.
Her real name is Laura, but she is called "LV" by her loud, bawdy
mother Mari (Blethyn), who is the only person who ever sees her. Since the
death of her beloved father, LV spends most of her life in her bedroom listening
to his vast collection of LPs. His favorites were Marilyn Monroe, Sheila
Bassett, and Judy Garland, so those are LV's favorites, too. But she doesn't
just listen. Over the years, she has grown so familiar with the tunes, she
has developed an uncanny ability to mimic the famous artists.
No one knows about LV's talent until Mari meets up with a lustful man
in a bar named Ray Say (Caine). Ray is a small-time agent and producer who
hires strippers to dance at the nightclub owned by his friend Mr. Boo (Broadbent).
When he comes over to Mari's place for a little drunken sexual escapade,
he overhears LV singing upstairs. Mari just thinks of the girl as an impediment
to her social life, but Ray immediately recognizes her talent, so he asks
Mr. Boo over to hear her. LV is reluctant at first (she can hardly stand
being around other people), but she gets a spiritual message from her dad
that it's all right, so she performs. In an immensely satisfying scene at
the club, she breaks out of her cage (literally) and is a smash hit in front
of a packed house.
LV is also being romantically pursued by a young phone repairman named
Billy (Ewan McGregor), who suffers from his own acute shyness. He raises
homing pigeons, and LV is the first person he's ever met who is as quiet
and delicate as his birds. So while Mari, Ray, and Mr. Boo are busy exploiting
LV for all she's worth, Billy assures her that she need not perform to win
At the close of the film, the credits assure us that Jane Horrocks performed
all her own singing. This is necessary, because she sounds so much like
Garland, Monroe, Bassett, Holliday, Deitrich, etc., that one would swear
the scenes were overdubbed. In fact, I daresay this film, written by director
Herman (and the play The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, on which
it is based, by Jim Cartwright), was designed solely to showcase Horrocks's
ability. But thank goodness Herman didn't skimp on supporting talent. Horrocks's
impersonations are incredible, but what makes this a wholly satisfying film
are the performances by Blethyn, Caine, and Broadbent, who add astounding
energy and depth.
Little Voice is an amazing feat of impressionism. It's a truly funny comedy. It's a heartwarming romance. But its time at your local theatre will be fleeting. If you can't see it there, be sure to put it on your "must rent" list when it comes out on video. ****½
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