1991, 110 min. Directed by Jane Spencer. Starring Crispin Glover, Tatum O'Neal, Rik Mayall, Steven Schub, Matthew Hutton.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., May 8, 1992
Little Noises is billed as “a little comedy in the Big Apple,” but there's really nothing funny about it. First-time director and UT graduate Jane Spencer has instead fashioned a moving and literate fable that explores the dangerous waters of artistic self-delusion, and the consequences of literary theft. Glover, playing yet another quirky outsider, is Joey, a young would-be writer who lacks the ability to see just how misguided he is regarding his chosen profession. Although he's never written a line in his life, Joey constantly brushes off friends and acquaintances, saying he “has to get back to his writing.” Set in New York City, the film is populated with similar urban casualties such as Joey's best friend Timmy (Schub), a talentless “actor/mime/juggler,” whose annoyance output occasionally reaches epic levels. Desperate to be taken seriously, Joey steals the beautiful poems of a young deaf-mute he knows and offers them to the neighborhood literary agent (Mayall of Drop Dead Fred) as his own. Quicker than you can say “$10,000 cash advance,” Joey finds himself surrounded by adoring sycophants who nuzzle his ballooning ego into the stratosphere and keep him blind to the moral and ethical implications of his actions. If that sounds like a comedy to you, I think we're coming from different directions. Comedy or not, though, Spencer's film is a brilliant “little” foray into the bittersweet world of the hopeless and the disillusioned. Little Noises is filled to bursting with wonderfully detailed characterizations, and although we've seen this stuttering, nervous, absent-minded portrayal from Glover before, it's no less fresh in this context. Mayall's obscenely pompous literary agent is likewise excellent and actually does add a touch of humor to what might otherwise have been a seriously downbeat film. This is a superbly crafted film that points out a few truths we may recognize as buried within ourselves, and as such, it also works as a charming cautionary tale regarding the pros and cons of dreaming and doing.