With its piquant New Age sexual triangle, HEARING VOICES might have been a trashy, soap opera buffet, but novice director-writer-producer Sharon Greytak mistakenly strains for Big Thoughts.
Erika (Erika Nagy) is a commercial model without a cause, but she could have one, were she to capitalize on her physical infirmity, a form of scoliosis, and do advertisements promoting medical aids. She resolutely refuses to do this, however, despite the entreaties of her ambitious lover and
modeling partner, Michael Krieger (Tim Ahearn). She's a singularly solitary soul, willfully resistant to the advice of others. When her doctor, Carl (Michael Davenport), suggests that she have rehabilitative surgery, she reacts with near-violence. Her stormy exit from his office attracts the
attention of his young, longhaired lover, Lee (Stephen Gatta). They meet on Manhattan's Christopher Street pier one day, while Lee, a photographer, is shooting tidal changes in the Hudson River. Erika and Lee begin a romantic liaison which upsets everyone around them. The course of true love never
runs smooth, it seems, especially for these two disaffected souls. Things are resolved in a facile, arbitrary manner that would have you believe that the very tentative ambiguousness of the denouement is much like that of life itself. What it really is, is excruciatingly predictable with its
"woman drawing on inner strength to deal with her fate alone" trope.
HEARING VOICES is as inert and as devoid of fun as its heroine. Even the fashion world, as depicted here on a shoestring budget, is joyless. The bereft opening party scene, describable as film school Antonioni, is all calculatedly empty posturing and inane babble. The characters' apartments are
uniformly devoid of personality, empty shells which mirror the vacuum of their lives. Erika seems to enjoy herself only once--at a hair commercial audition in which she and other hopefuls toss their coifs for the camera. The scene is a mere fillip, distinctive only in that it works more
successfully than Greytak's other attempts at capturing a model's life, something done infinitely better in a similar scene with Jane Fonda in KLUTE, as well as FUNNY FACE, THE EYES OF LAURA MARS and, for pure low-camp diversion, MAHOGANY. A scene of Erika and Michael strutting their stuff for a
glamorous black and white commercial is embarrassing.
The film almost threatens to come to life when Michael accosts the brunette Lee, whom he derisively refers to as "Goldilocks," in his apartment. If the scene had played out its implications and he'd made a point of seducing the boy, the film might at least have played as a bargain-basement
version of John Schlesinger's classic SUNDAY, BLOODY SUNDAY. But Greytak nervously shrinks from this development and the opportunity for Michael to employ certain sexual tactics doubtlessly familiar to him from his profession.
One would like to feel some real sympathy for Erika, aside from her physical problems, but, as enacted by Nagy, she's an icy drudge. She's the type of loner who's obviously read too many French novelettes, given to dragging her hand in the water of an empty aquarium in her apartment, while
wearing an evening gown. Her unexciting, vanilla looks aren't exactly the type to galvanize a camera, either. (Ahearn, playing a supposedly hotshot model, is similarly unprepossessing.) The actress is never really obnoxious, however. The same can't be said of Gatta. Sporting a mane of
pre-Raphaelite ringlets, he is puppyish, angelic, pouting, madly impetuous, confused and oh so sensitive. In short, a major creep. His scenes with Nagy constantly border on the unintentionally hilarious. He describes the death of his alienated father in a way that might make Thelma Ritter,
wherever she is, utter again her ALL ABOUT EVE remark: "Everything but the bloodhounds snapping at her behind."
The love scenes are squirm-inducing, with Lee playing passive objet d'amour to Erika's probing fingers and mouth--both of them clad in pristine underwear. The only funny line occurs when his fed-up lover tells him, "If it had been a younger man, I could at least have gone to the gym more often.
But another woman...!" The film is technically undistinguished in every way, and is afflicted by a pretentious score which features a soprano warbling a cappella laments. (Profanity, adult situations, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: With its piquant New Age sexual triangle, HEARING VOICES might have been a trashy, soap opera buffet, but novice director-writer-producer Sharon Greytak mistakenly strains for Big Thoughts. Erika (Erika Nagy) is a commercial model without a cause, but sh… (more)