Little Voice (1998) Film Review

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LV (Jane Horrocks) is a painfully shy girl living with her horrible, shouty mother Mari (Brenda Blethyn). LV escapes into the world of her the records that her now-dead father left her – all the classics, Shirly Bassey, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday – all the greats. When her mum hooks up with local talent scout Ray Say (Michael Caine) and he hears LV singing, a plan is cooked up for her to become a star. Not that she wants it. Meanwhile, she has met equally shy pigeon fancier Billy (Ewan McGregor) and he has lit something in her.

I love this film. It’s one of those great little British films that tell a decent story with strong scriptwriting and fabulous performances. Jane Horrocks is just so fabulous in it, especially once she is in the spotlight! Bam! But it is a tough film to watch. So much awfulness. The one bit that falls down for me is the role of the unattractive neighbour Sadie, played by Annette Badland. Her character is mostly silent and acting like a moron like a poor clown. The thing is, the film didn’t need a clown – it was such a tragic film and Sadie was not an appropriate inclusion. Annette Badland would have done a lot better as a strong supporting character.

Little Voice was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Brenda Blethyn).

 

Atonement (2007) Film Review

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I remember the start of Kiera Knightly’s career. In Bend it like Beckham, she was the young and adorable thing. Then in Pirates of the Carribean she had a bit of fight in her – there was some humour, and I especially enjoyed the flirtiness between her character and the marvellous Captain Jack Sparrow. But since then, every performance of hers I’ve seen makes me cringe. It’s the pout more than anything; plus the fact that when she smiles, she appears to be in pain. I was hoping for more in Atonement, but was sorely let down. She pouted more than ever and talked so fast I could barely understand her. Terrible.

Atonement tells the story of Briony Tallis, as young child who witnesses several events and connects them together in, what appears to her to be a logical manner, with dire results.

I read the book by Ian McEwan years ago and so knew the story, and I think that the film would be far better if the plot was a surprise. I also really enjoyed the book, and that can be so problematic when watching film translations. I must re-read it now, because it felt that there was not enough content to maintain the film for the full 123 minutes, and given that it is not a short book, it seems odd.

The film is beautifully filmed, especially the extremely long single camera shot along the beach in France as the soldiers wait to be evacuated. James McAvoy is great, as usual, and the young actress Saoirse Ronan was deserving of her Oscar nomination. Just a shame about Knightly.

Atonement won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score and was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Saorise Ronan), Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Art Direction and Best Acheievement in Costume Design. It won the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture- Drama and Best Original Score, as well as a heap of nominations for Golden Globes in other areas.