Sunday, April 17, 2005


Little Voice. This was a parlor stunt strung out to the length of a feature film. A stage-bound feature film, as this was adapted from a play and never really leaves the floorboards. The first third of the movie consists of waiting for the gimmick, the second third is the gimmick, and the final third is the character's coming to terms with the fact of the gimmick. The whole thing collapses with a gotcha! that's been cutely set up from the very beginning.


It's got big name stars at the top of their form, clearly seeing more in the material than the material demands. Michael Caine does his scuzzy charmer routine about as well as I've ever seen him do it. He has a crucial scene midway through, almost a monologue really, that's incredible. Brenda Blethyn goes over the top right from the first frame, then shifts into overdrive and keeps right on going. Ewan McGregor slums as a dimwitted, pigeon-loving telephone worker. Jim Broadbent draws a map for Bill Murray in case anybody ever wants to remake this in Hollywood.

The fundamental problem with this movie is that it rests on the absurd notion that a bunch of self-absorbed working class slobs in contemporary Northern England are going to seize upon a shy girl's ability to imitate Judy Garland, as if (a) Judy Garland, who hasn't had a hit record in about 55 years, is such a known commodity that her voice and mannerisms are instantly recognizable when copied, and (b) anybody would really care if she did. I suppose Jane Horrocks is dead on as Garland, Monroe, Dietrich, Bassey, etc., but how can most folks in a modern audience tell? Maybe they should have included a side-by-side comparison as a DVD feature.

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