Dir: Simon Cellan Jones . UK. 2000. 101 mins.
Prod Co: Dragon Pictures. Int'l sales: FilmFour. Prod: Damian Jones, Graham Broadbent. Co-prod: Fiona Morham. Scr: Joe Penhall. DoP: David Odd. Prod des: Zoe Macleod. Ed: Elen Pierce Lewis. Mus: Adrian Johnston. Main cast: Daniel Craig, David Morrissey, Kelly Macdonald, Julie Graham.
A first cinema feature from director Simon Cellan Jones after extensive experience on acclaimed British television dramas like Cracker and Our Friends In the North, Some Voices is small scale in its aspirations and modest in its achievements. A slight, obvious tale of fragile romance and mental instability, it boasts a degree of quirky humour and another charismatic performance from Daniel Craig (Love Is The Devil, The Trench etc) but its difficult to discern exactly who its intended audience might be. In an increasingly crowded home territory, it lacks the distinctive qualities required to make an impact and may well slip by relatively unnoticed.
Ironically, it will sit quite comfortably on the small screen. Released from an institution at the start of the film, Craig's Ray is taken to live with his brother Pete (Morrissey), a hard-working restaurateur. Despite past friction between them and an unhappy family history, they both attempt to make the most of this fresh start. Footloose and impulsive, Ray intervenes in a raucous domestic dispute between feisty Scots woman Laura (Macdonald) and her violent partner. He may be beaten up for his troubles but it is the start of a beautiful friendship that gives Ray a rare taste of happiness and contentment. Inevitably, it is shortlived. Refusing to take his medication, it's hardly surprising that he becomes increasingly agitated and paranoid. As he becomes a danger to himself and others, the film moves full circle back to the institution.
As inexorably predictable as it sounds, the basic story of Some Voices lacks much in the way of originality or verve. Tragedy is signposted from a far distance and the secondary characters, especially the women, are quite sketchily drawn and almost seem to exist in a vacuum. We never learn enough about the circumstances of Laura's life and certainly aren't convinced by a much discussed pregnancy that never seems to show on Macdonald's svelte figure. Julie Graham's waitress Mandy also seems to exist just to provide romantic possibilities for longsuffering brother Pete.
A generally mundane film belatedly gathers momentum and edge in its closing stages as Pete's illness pushes him to the brink of self-destruction. Increasingly jealous of Laura, he is discovered one morning naked in the street, covered in ketchup and attempting to construct a crop circle from rubbish bags. Later, he is pushed towards a final confrontation with Pete. Again, brief allusions to guilt over the death of their mother and despair over a drunken, ne'er-do-well father come as something of an anti-climax and don't carry the emotional resonance that they should.
Morrissey and Graham are fine in their supporting performances but Macdonald is slightly disappointing after her more accomplished recent work in House! and Sundance winner Two Family House. Craig therefore is left to carry the film and even if the screenplay doesn't give him all the support he might want, he remains more than capable of the challenge.