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Miramax Pictures presents
"When he had these records on he sparkled. Not dazzling like you, but with fine lights. Fine lights."
DVD ReviewLittle Voice is yet another off-beat but personal British comedy with an ensemble of quirky characters that feels a bit like Rainman on estrogen.. Jane Horrocks plays Little Voice (LV), called that because she speaks more like a quiet Shirley Temple than a woman in her early twenties, and spends all of her time cooped up in her room listening to her dead father's old record collection.
Her mother is the widow Mari Hoff, an uproarious dominating yente played to the hilt by Academy Award®- nominated Brenda Blethyn (Secrets & Lies). Disappointed by the perceived weakness of both her dead husband and daughter, Mari thinks she has made it big when she bags talent scout and huckster Ray Clay, portrayed with a wonderful smarmy sleaze by Michael Caine. When the power goes out the night she brings Ray home, we discover LV has a hidden talent: she is able to recreate with eerie exactness the singing styles of Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, and Shirley Bassey. "I'm telling you you're sitting on top of a goldmine; not somewhere over the rainbow, but up there," Ray tells Mari. Seeing dollar signs, Ray undertakes to convince LV to leave the sanctity of their abandoned record store home; a not so easy task indeed.
In the meantime, the slow and introverted Billy, played by Ewan McGregor, a telephone installer trainee and a young man more comfortable with the homing pigeons he keeps than with people, is smitten at first sight with the shy LV. His attempts to get the attention of LV without her mother's knowledge create several of this film's most special moments. Although in a very small role, McGregor shows his versatility as an actor (Episode One: Phantom Menace, Trainspotting, Velvet Goldmine).
Writer/director Mark Herman also received some fine supporting performances by Annette Badland as "Sadie," Jim Broadbent (Time Bandits) as the near intolerable "Mr. Boo," and Philip Jackson as Billy's co-worker, "George."
LV: Has Dwayne come home yet?
Billy: No. It happens sometimes out there, flying free. They like it. You should try it some time LV.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: Unfortunately Miramax has given this film a non-anamorphic 1.85:1 original aspect ratio transfer that is not very good. There are many scratches, pops and nicks, particularly in the opening sequences, and evidence of grain and pixelation throughout. The colors are nicely rendered however, with the exception of reddish fleshtones during some indoor scenes. You would think they would have been able to find a cleaner print of such a new film.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is fairly unimpressive. The sound is mostly center oriented with hardly any rear channel output at all, even during full-blown musical numbers. Although this isn't a full-surround kind of film, a more dynamic soundstage could have made me forgive some of the visual shortcomings. The dialogue is well rendered and understandable, even with the thickest of accents.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsAll in all, Little Voice is a funny and touching romance where Brenda Blethyn shines in her Oscar® nominated role, but the lack of quality transfers and special features makes this a renter. Recommended.
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