Hearing Voices

1989, NR Directed by Sharon Greytak. Starring Erika Nagy, Stephen Gatta, Tim Ahern, Michael Davenport.

REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., June 26, 1992

I don't really like shooting fish in a barrel, but Hearing Voices is an easy target. The story has promise: Erika, a beautiful model, manages to have a successful career in spite of the fact that she has ugly scars on her back from childhood surgery to correct scoliosis and has just recently undergone an ileostomy which has left her wearing a discreet little plastic bag to collect waste. Yeah, it would be fair to say she's obsessed with her body. She's chosen to express that obsession by modeling the parts of her body that are perfect but she's also fair game for her lover, another model, who reassures himself about his own beauty by reminding her of her imperfections. By the time we are introduced to the happy couple, she's had just about all she can take of the guy. Thus, when she meets a lovely, young, gay man who accepts her for who she is, blah blah, blah, she finds the strength to tell the model to beat it. As much as I applaud Greytak's audacity in tackling the subjects she tackles: the impreciseness of human sexuality, emotional abuse and our society's obsession with beauty and perfection, I found this movie very difficult to sit through. Basically, I think that there just weren't the resources to do this movie the way it should have been done. First, you absolutely have to have decent acting to pull off all the kinds of issues that make people squirm, but these actors are too uptight to crack a smile. It's also incredibly claustrophobic, again probably as a result of the production's limited recources. Almost all the action takes place in Erika's apartment and on a nearby pier. We're left with a group of uptight people endlessly dissecting their neuroses. The virtues of Hearing Voices are far outweighed by its leadenness and moments of sheer clumsiness. Writer, director, producer Greytak, herself confined to a wheelchair, has gotten a lot of attention for this, her first film that at least demonstrates her competence in the mechanics of filmmaking. There's no reason to think she won't do a better job the next time out.

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More by Kathleen Maher
Incident at Oglala
British filmmaker Apted makes a carefully reasoned, yet passionate statement about the legal system that has ensnared American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier.

July 10, 1992

Titicut Follies
Wiseman filmed conditions in the Bridgeport Mental Hospital with a bare minimum of crew and equipment, which resulted in a devastatingly candid view of life behind the high walls of a state mental hospital for the criminally insane.

July 10, 1992


Hearing Voices, Sharon Greytak, Erika Nagy, Stephen Gatta, Tim Ahern, Michael Davenport

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