A pleasant but ultimately unsatisfying dramedy of two brothers trying to start over in their relationship, “Some Voices” runs out of gas in the final stretch after a promising first half. Good performances from a small cast led by Daniel Craig and Kelly Macdonald are let down by shapeless direction from former TV helmer Simon Cellan Jones and a script whose lack of depth becomes progressively more noticeable. Pic’s largest constituency will be on the tube rather than the bigscreen.
Opening reels have an easygoing flavor as Ray (Craig) is collected from a psychiatric hospital and taken back to west London by his brother, Pete (David Morrissey), who runs a small restaurant. Pete makes sure Ray keeps taking his medication and warns him against any excessive drinking.
In the street one day, Ray accidentally meets Laura (Macdonald), a feisty Glaswegian lass who’s in the process of booting out her boyfriend, Dave (Peter McDonald). In some of the movie’s best scenes, Ray slowly wheedles Laura out of her brittle shell and takes her on a trip to the south coast, where they fumblingly get it on.
Macdonald’s pert naturalness and Craig’s craggy charm make for some fine screen chemistry, even when not a lot is happening in the script. The deficiencies start to show when the movie returns to London and tries to develop its various strands, which include Ray’s growing mental instability when he kicks his medication, Pete’s vague attempts to build a relationship with his waitress, Mandy (Julie Graham), and deep-seated tensions between the two brothers. Added to all that, Laura is pregnant by her ex-b.f.
Joe Penhall’s script, based on his 1994 Royal Court play starring Ray Winstone, is a decidedly thin construct that requires the audience to fill in a lot of the gaps. Ray’s illness (presumably schizophrenia) is never specified, and, until he is required to act weird for dramatic reasons, he spends most of the movie as a fairly ordinary layabout.
Despite vague references to earlier family troubles, the two brothers are hardly backgrounded at all, robbing their final confrontation of significant drama or intensity.
What’s left is a charming enough, working class romance between Ray and Laura that’s held afloat by the thesps’ presence, punctuated by scenes of the hard-working Pete’s frustration at his brother’s inability to assume any responsibility. Side plot of Pete and Mandy hardly gets off the ground.
In contrast to the stylized source material, helmer Cellan Jones and d.p. David Odd go for a naturalistic, handheld look using natural lighting; this would be OK with more substantial material but brings nothing to the movie on its own. Occasional use of buoyant songs on the soundtrack, including the Francoise Hardy classic “La maison ou j’ai grandi,” is diverting at the time.