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Life Is a Cabaret

[whitespace] Little Voice
The Voice of Authority: Jane Horrocks stars as a wee lass with a big sound in Mark Herman's 'Little Voice.'

A recluse finds her 'Little Voice' in celebrity impersonations

By Richard von Busack

IN A DEPRESSED, DECREPIT SEASIDE town in England, a lonely young girl practices a special gift: she can imitate the voices of performers like Monroe, Dietrich and Judy Garland. Called "L.V," short for Little Voice, the girl is pushed onto a local nightclub stage at the behest of a local nightclub spiv (played by Michael Caine with the goose grease dripping off of him.)

It's mawkish work, a meager knock-off of The Glass Menagerie. Jane Horrocks, the abrasive, redheaded Nutella fetishist from Mike Leigh's Life Is Sweet, has turned herself into a Beanie Baby-sized waif here. Yes, her celebrity impersonations are precise, but if you're allergic to Monroe and Garland kitsch, the movie is very tough sledding. Some relief comes from Jim Broadbent, as Caine's sidekick. Brenda Blethyn (Secrets and Lies), who plays L.V.'s mother, is a wild, low-comic sight, as raucous as a crow. (It's a mark of how dire Little Voice is: the mean, brassy slag of a mother is often more sympathetic than her preposterously withdrawn daughter.)


Little Voice (R; 99 min.), directed and written by Mark Herman, based on a play by Jim Cartwright, photographed by Andy Collins and starring Michael Caine, Brenda Blethyn, Jane Horrocks, Jim Broadbent and Ewan McGregor.

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From the February 4-10, 1999 issue of Metro.

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