Smug in attitude and decidedly pretentious in its approach, writer-director Jane Spencer's LITTLE NOISES is resoundingly defeated by its idiosyncratic leading man.
Failing even at the lowly job of perfume spritzer, the chronically unemployed Joey Kremple (Crispin Glover) angers his Aunt Shirley (Carole Shelley) with non-payment of rent and insults his equally untalented actor pal Timmy Smith (Steven Schub) whenever he isn't staring at the blank pages in his
typewriter. What Joey wants is not to write but to be celebrated as a writer. When the woman he adores, Stella Winslow (Tatum O'Neal) enjoys a minor success in securing a production for one of her plays, Joey tires of dissembling about his prospects and stumbles onto a quick route to Yuppie-ville.
If you can't be Bret Easton Ellis or Jay McInerney, then why not plagiarize the poetry of a talented friend, particularly if that poet is mute and a little slow on the uptake.
When pathetic Marty Slovack (Matthew Hutton) keeps shoving sheaths of poems at him, how can Joey resist, particularly when Marty's protective brother Stu (John McGinley) is killed while dealing drugs? Suddenly Joey's agent pal Mathias Lichtenstein (Rik Mayall) is keen on representing him, and the
aftertaste of being evicted by his aunt is soon gone. Although Stella sees through Joey's ruse, he's already headed for minor celebrity status--and Marty winds up homeless in the gutter. Although Joey tries to assuage his conscience by tossing Marty a few bucks, it would seem his more immediate
problem is where to locate another sucker. Salable primitive doggerel is hard to find.
Unappealingly photographed and directed with that we've-only-got-one-shot improvisatory air that plagues low-budget productions, LITTLE NOISES does offer reflections on the artistic process and selling out. Joey is a sort of contemporary Oblomov trapped by his own distaste for survival jobs and by
the realization that as a writer he has precious little to offer a waiting world. Unfortunately, these and other promising themes (the conflict between artistic expression and the desire to have that expression garner approval from society; the plight of the struggling writer in an unsubsidized
landscape; and the process by which some shed friends as they climb the ladder of success) are handled too blatantly in the film. Nor have the filmmakers chosen their leading man wisely.
To interpret this low-energy anti-hero, they should have chosen an actor with neurotic energy or at least one with some surface charm. Instead we have Crispin Glover (RIVER'S EDGE, WHERE THE HEART IS) calling attention to himself in the guise of a naturalistic performance. Stopping and starting
sentences like a love child of Sandy Dennis and William Hickey, slurring words as if he were eating dialogue for sustenance, and staring with heavy-lidded torpor at each new dilemma, Clover distances us from his character instead of pulling us into his desperation.
Granted the film is poorly paced and the screenplay isn't well structured, and there are also mannered performances by Schub and Gianin Loffler, but the film's failure lies with Glover since this is primarily a one-man character study. Adrift in actor's anomie, Glover is so in tune with his own
feelings, he's forgotten he's supposed to be performing for the film viewer's benefit, not merely his own. (Violence, profanity.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: NR
- Review: Smug in attitude and decidedly pretentious in its approach, writer-director Jane Spencer's LITTLE NOISES is resoundingly defeated by its idiosyncratic leading man. Failing even at the lowly job of perfume spritzer, the chronically unemployed Joey Kremple… (more)