Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Little Voice, or: (Ray) Say My Name

This week’s pick ties in with our Ewan McGregor/Hellraiser theme for the month.  Or, as I like to think of it, our unofficial petition for the casting of Ewan McGregor as Pinhead in the next Hellraiser installment.  Also Michael Caine and Jim Broadbent are in this, so it has to be good, right?

The Film:

Little Voice

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

LV is a very shy woman with a troubled relationship with her mother and a talent for impersonating soulful singers.  Will various shady characters attempt to take advantage of the latter?  (Spoiler:  yes.)

The Uncondensed Version:

LV (Little Voice) is extremely shy, quiet, and possibly agoraphobic.  She rarely speaks to anyone, including her mother, and finds solace only in her old swing, jazz, and blues records.

Her mother, Mari, does not appreciate LV pumping up the jam day in and day out; however, she doesn’t particularly approve of anything LV does.  Mari is awful to her daughter, but she has very good taste in sweaters.

A woman wearing a cat sweater speaks to another woman in a residential neighborhood.
Cat sweater game on point.

Meanwhile, Ewan McGregor plays a character who installs phones, but whose true interest is in feeding pigeons.  The message both LV and Ewan (Bill in this film) receive is to grow up, focus, behave like a normal human being (whatever that means).  So it’s unsurprising that the two share a connection and Bill charms her by returning with promotional literature about phones after he helps install a phone for Mari.

A man stands outside of a bird enclosure with a bucket, smiling up at the sky.
Feed the biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirds…

In a storyline that is about to become incredibly relevant, Mari brags about how she scored with Ray Say (Michael Caine!), a talent agent of sorts.  Our plots converge when Ray hears LV’s Judy Garland impression and recognizes a situation he can profit from.

A man wearing a pink floral robe stands on a chair in a kitchen.
Has Michael Caine ever done drag?  He should totally do drag.

In the meantime, Bill does his own version of the boombox outside of the window by showing up at LV’s window in a cherry picker.  This is mostly endearing because he talks about his birds the whole time (in a fashion similar to me talking about my cat all the damn time) and has a really cute smile.

A man smiles, highlighting his sparkling blue eyes.
He has really pretty eyes too.

Ray convinces local nightclub owner, Mr. Boo (Jim Broadbent!), to listen for himself.  With the help of Mari, the two get LV to perform at the nightclub, where she draws a huge crowd with her wheel of musical impressions, as it were.

Is LV’s mom happy about this newfound success?  Of course she isn’t.  Does she take advantage of the situation and pressure LV into performing indefinitely?  Check and check.

A woman onstage emerges from a golden cage, the words "Little Voice" appearing in lights above her.
The screenwriters are just a little into the caged bird metaphor in this film.

LV, miserable in the spotlight, deeply hurt by her mother’s lies, and cracking under the pressure, refuses to go onstage again.  In response, Ray inadvertently starts a fire, acts like a huge dick, and embarrasses himself on stage.  I quite liked Michael Caine’s angry, embittered singing, honestly.  The rest of the film’s conclusion, however…has issues.

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

This film has a great cast…Brenda Blethyn and Michael Caine are so worth watching in this.  Jim Broadbent and Ewan McGregor are almost playing their Moulin Rouge roles, and Jane Horrocks is especially impressive given that she performed all of the songs in this.

However, I did expect the story to be a bit more empowering, and LV was a character much in need of understanding.  It was troubling to see her constantly victimized in the film and unable to articulate her thoughts.  There was also very little nuance to the characters, IMHO—good characters LV and Bill were a bit too good to be believed, while Mari, Ray, and Mr. Boo were completely despicable.

But I think the moral of the story here is I will forgive a film most things if it includes a few McGregor grins.

Did this one make Christa raise her voice in song or was it completely off-key?  Find out in her review here!