Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Small Voices

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Teaching degree in hand, an idealistic young woman from Manila (Alessandra De Rossi) arrives at a desolate Philippine village to teach at the local school, where the teachers are less interested in education than in selling popsicles to the students at recess. The children come from poor farming families that have dismissed school as a privilege of the rich, and their parents are less than thrilled when the new arrival decides to organize a school choral group for an upcoming competition. This excellent 2002 drama from the Philippines sticks obediently to the formula of a Hollywood feel-good picture, but the cliches are ameliorated by the sincerity of the players and the story's sense of economic hopelessness. Director Gil Portes contributed to the script, whose narrative lines are clean, simple, and highly effective. 109 min. Gene Siskel Film Center.

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