Little Horrocks' Big Voice
There are 3 things going on with "Little Voice", 3 things which make it a well rounded entertaining movie. We have the entertaining drama of the story of the shy LV being manipulated by others till she finally has enough. Then there is the humour of the characters from Brenda Blethyn as brassy Mari to Michael Caine as 70s Ray, comical stereotypes which put a huge smile on your face. And then there is Jane Horrocks and her wonderful singing, her amazing ability to imitate a whole cavalcade of stars which no matter how many times you watch "Little Voice" she will take you aback. It is these 3 things which combine to make "Little Voice" one of the best British movies of the 90s which offers something for almost everyone.
Timid LV (Jane Horrocks) hides away in her room listening to the records which belonged to her late father, keeping out of the way of her mother Mari Hoff (Brenda Blethyn - Beyond the Sea) who enjoys going out for a drink and coming home drunk. One night Mari comes home with talent spotter Ray Say (Michael Caine - Shadow Run) for a bit of how's your father but gets none when he hears LV up in her room singing just as if Judy Garland was there. Spotting an opportunity Ray and Mari force LV to take to the stage at Mr. Boo's (Jim Broadbent) nightclub having put all his money behind her amazing singing talent. But will the shy LV be able to perform on stage and will she want a career in show business like Ray is planning for her.
The thing about "Little Voice" is that 2 of the things which make it so good, the story of LV finding her voice and the stereotypes which we meet are not the original. Heck if you look at any of the well known British movies of the 90s which took us up to the North used similar big comical stereotypes but it works. From the minute we meet Mari, who let's be honest is a bit of an old tart, through to Ray who still is living in the 70s we have a smile on our face. And in many ways it is the humour of these characters, Mari rampantly trying to get Ray in to bed whilst he acts like a British medallion man which makes us want to watch. That isn't to say that the storyline of the timid LV and her voice isn't interesting because it is but it is the vehicle for the humour.
But the story of LV and her amazing voice does give us Jane Horrocks and her simply stunning talent. The first time you hear LV timidly singing one of her dad's favourite songs in her bedroom is magical, the second time it is beautiful and when she imitates Marilyn Monroe as she sits at the table with Ray you are blown away. But that is nothing to the almighty power when LV does perform at the night club and we get one brilliant song after another with Horrocks amazingly imitating the original singers. It simply blows you away, not just the first time you watch "Little Voice" but every single time it is that good. It is not just Horrocks amazing singing voice which she does so well but the comical timid ness of LV is simply adorable, perfectly delivered to make us fall in love with this young woman.
Because "Little Voice" is very much about the humour of the characters it also features 2 other great performances with Brenda Blethyn delivering larger than life as Mari. It is such a brilliant character and brilliant performance, a stereotype embellished to a comical level that whilst she may swear and being nasty towards LV there is humour in it, especially when she acts like a drunken tart. And then there is Michael Caine who equally goes for larger than life as Ray, a talent agent from the past of the Northern club circuit where comics told mother in law jokes and agents tried to bed young women. In fact you can add Jim Broadbent into this mix as club owner Mr. Boo because his northern club comedy compeering is just fantastic. You end up feeling sorry for Ewan McGregor because as Billy who befriends LV doesn't really get much to do other than play it nice as the pigeon fancier.
What this all boils down to is that "Little Voice" is a glorious British movie which delights with larger than life stereotypes and the amazing Jane Horrocks whose ability to imitate stars from the past is simply fantastic.