This is exactly the sort of movie you want to be snuggling down to on a Sunday afternoon (the time I tend to view all our films). It’s gentle Sunday subject matter with just the right amount of Northern Grit but it has swears in it too so it’s not exactly The Sound of Music (1965), which I abhor with every fibre of my being.
That said, and I will elaborate further down the line, I had seen this movie before and remember thinking it was on the just-a-bit-too-cheesy side and therefore not for me. Would a re-watching bring about a change of heart or would it cement my original assessment, I wonder? Read on my friends to find out for yourselves which camp I’m in. (I know right? Thrilling!)
Oh, and this is McGregor Vs. Pinhead Month (last week’s review here) so expect some fine Scottish beef in this review. Sadly, Pinhead does not appear propped up against the bar at Mr. Boo’s, and perhaps that’s just as well as Mari Hoff would make him look like Hello Kitty in comparison.
As always *beware spoilers!*
Little Voice (1998)
IMDB Synopsis: 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.
This film has a very satisfying villain in the form of Mari Hoff. Brassy, brazen and horrible, Mari spends her entire existence screaming at the top of her lungs, having it off with inappropriate men and resenting her hermit of a daughter, LV (aka Little Voice) for whatever reason she can think of.
Things are starting to look up for Mari as she’s just started seeing showbiz veteran Ray and thinks he’s the catch of the century. Mr Hoff, LV’s father, has been dead for some time and this is part of the reason for LV’s reclusive lifestyle.
It’s down to her enduring love for her father that LV is obsessed with his old records, all by the likes of the divas; Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Shirley Bassey. She locks herself in her room and seeks solace in the voices of these empowering women – which of course drives her mother even more mad.
Things could be on the up for LV too in the form of awkward Billy (our boy), who meets LV on a routine BT telephone installation at Mrs. Hoff’s house. Shy LV isn’t the greatest communicator but this doesn’t deter Pigeon Enthusiast Billy, who finds weird and wonderful excuses to visit (bordering on unacceptable I would say, Ewan, if it were anybody but you).
Incidentally, The Hoffs reside above a former record shop and the whole place is shot to shit. The electrics alone would turn my hair white and like The Hoff Family, the building is falling apart from the inside.
Also becoming a regular at the house is Ray, who one night overhears LV singing to herself and is blown away by her talent. Part good singer/part impressionist, Ray is eager to hitch his wagon to LV’s before she is snapped up by someone else. Plus, it seems Scarborough isn’t exactly teeming with it’s own untapped talent (Take Fat anyone?).
The next morning Ray pulls out all the stops to build a connection with LV, who can actually speak it turns out. She seems to be starting to trust him and clearly enjoys the ego stroke, though it looks unlikely showbiz is the next stop.
Or is it? Ray gets Mr Boo, who owns the local nightclub, round to The Hoff House to check out LV, though she refuses to perform. Following an altercation with Mari, however, Little Voice starts to sing (she’s infused inside a reverie about her dead father) and Mr Boo lose his mind too.
What follows is a brief audition at the Club (LV dragged almost kicking and screaming) which ends exactly as you’d imagine. It seems everyone’s dreams are dashed.
Or are they? Somehow Ray manages to talk Little Voice into a One Night Only performance at the Club (old fashioned emotional manipulation, that’ll do it). One preparing-for-the-show montage later and there she is, on stage in front of a packed out audience. Rather than completely fuck it all up, LV imagines her father in the crowd and absolutely nails it. She proves so popular that it’s a given that this is it, next stop Vegas.
Nobody bothers to ask Little Voice what she wants though and she clams up, jeopardising the next nights performance, to which a big talent scout has been invited.
Amidst the excitement of a catatonic LV, Ray finally loses his rag with clingy Mari, punches out Mr Boo and embarrasses himself onstage at the Club. What’s more there’s a dangerous incident that changes life for Mari and LV forever.
What will happen to Mean Old Mari and her softly spoken daughter? Will there ever be calm between then?
Will Billy ever get LV alone? Will LV ever find her one true voice?
And will you care? I suppose that’s one of the most important questions to ponder.
This is a nice British film about finding the confidence to stand up and be counted. It’s also about grief and moving on, and that’s quite touching. Personally LV annoys me and the cabaret scenes leave me cold, like the singing bits in Glee but there’s enough in this for me to have enjoyed it. Brenda Blethyn is an amazing actress that lends even Mari a little sympathy, although she’s pretty heinous.
Although my loins burn bright and true for McGregor, and always shall, this is not the place. Pigeon botherer Billy is a wet blanket and no mistake. Sweet and perfect for LV though.
My Rating: 3/5. Nice but not amazing.