London Film Festival: Little Voice
Thursday 12 November 1998
Adapted from the stage play by Jim Cartright, Little Voice is the story of Laura (Horrocks), a timid young woman, whose life with an overbearing mother (Brenda Blethyn) has just about turned her into an elective mute. Everywhere except her bedroom, that is, where she hides away listening to her dead dad's collection of old LPs and perfecting her impressions of singers from Judy Garland to Shirley Bassey. Their lives seem stalled until low-rent local impresario Ray Say (Caine) hears Little Voice sing and sees his ticket to success.
In the hands of Mark Herman, Little Voice is a pleasingly morbid kitchen sink musical. Gone is the beery sentimentality of Brassed Off, and in its place a truly black comedy, crowded with memorable grotesques. The film takes a long time to get going, and its air of seedy, seaside theatricality may not appeal to all tastes, but casting and performances are spot on.
Horrocks is superb as the sparrow who ends up singing in a gilded cage, Blethyn pure brass as her bitter, mouthy mother, gleefully chanting "liquor, lacquer" as she swigs her gin and sprays her hair. Still, the real honours must go to Caine, who turns in a splendidly overblown performance as the monstrous Ray. Whether he's chatting up Blethyn, buttering up Horrocks or cruising in his last chance saloon, Ray exudes failure and insincerity like cheap aftershave. He sweats desperation. It's thanks to Caine that when he reveals his true colours at the film's climax, this slow-burning film finally catches fire.
Review: Of Mice and Men
By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work
Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar
What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?
Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings
The actor has confessed to his own insecurities
Allotments are the focus of a new reality show
Arts & Ents blogs
Big Bang Theory to get special Star Wars episode with help from Lucasfilm
The best movies on Netflix: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Game of Thrones season 4 episode 2 breaks torrent record as fans watch online
The original Breaking Bad ending saw every character die
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for auction...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Big Bang Theory to get special Star Wars episode with help from Lucasfilm
- 3 Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
- 4 Pharrell Williams 'Happy': British Muslims dance to song in video
- 5 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews