December 14, 1998 12:00 PM

Jane Horrocks, Michael Caine, Brenda Blethyn, Ewan McGregor

Big voice, little story. That’s the deal with Little Voice, a slight English film dominated by a wowza-wowza star turn by Horrocks, a waifish actress with a huge singing voice and an uncanny gift for mimicry. (She is best known in the U.S. as the ditzy aide Bubble on TV’s Absolutely Fabulous.) Horrocks is cast here as the movie’s title character, a withdrawn’ young woman who sits all day in her room playing old LPs and imitating, with Memorex-like accuracy, the voices of Judy Garland, Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich. When her mum’s new beau, a seedy showbiz agent played with winning bluster by Caine, overhears her singing, he decides she’s his ticket to the big time.

Horrocks’s crooning will knock your popcorn loose, but the movie’s negligible story and obvious symbolism (something about setting caged birds free) don’t add up to much. (R)

Bottom Line: Fab star, but otherwise, not a lot to shout about

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