Film Review: Sound of My Voice
Sound of My Voice is a science fiction-suspense tale about a beautiful young woman from the future who returns to the past where, sick and dying, she assembles younger versions of the people she loves to prepare them to survive the coming apocalypse.
At least, that may be what this film is about. On the other hand, it may be a psychological thriller about a pleasantly-crazy lady living in a basement in the San Fernando Valley, teaching a bunch of gullible idiots to eat worms and kidnap schoolgirls.
Either way, it’s a good movie.
Aspiring journalist Peter (Christopher Denham) is at the end of his rope. Determined to avoid a mediocre existence as a substitute schoolteacher, he must do something big with his life. He and girlfriend Lorna (Nicole Vicius) plan to make their names filming an undercover documentary about a mysterious Los Angeles cult leader. The two are initiated into the cautious circle of followers. They smuggle in a camera and learn the secret handshake. Peter and Lorna are set to expose the cult, but almost immediately things get real, and the two lovers find themselves divided over whether to get out or fall ever deeper in.
Brit Marling plays the clan’s leader, Maggie, whom we first meet as she assembles her devotees in the basement of a vacant home. She points to a tattoo on her ankle: “The number 54 refers to where I come from . . . 2054. Your future.” This Maggie is no raving mad Charles Manson-type. Instead she’s a sweetly soft-spoken muse draped in white, a blonde goddess surrounded by a toga-party of misfit adults. She doesn’t claim to be a returned Christ or ask her followers to give up their life-savings. She wants only to be with the ones she loves and teach them to survive the dark days she knows are coming.
Marling co-wrote the script with Zal Batmanglij, who directed the film. She also co-wrote and starred in Another Earth(directed by Mike Cahill), and both films premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Overall, the film intrigues as it moves ominously along. Some unforeseen movements in the plot keep viewers on their toes, and the aspects of the cult that at first seem most ridiculous pay off in the end in a satisfying way. The brilliant thing is that the film keeps us guessing. Is Maggie a meticulous fake or a bonafide, legitimate time traveler? The film gives just enough information to leave its audience hungry for more, and thankfully, more may be on its way, as the writers have promised that Sound of My Voice is just the first in a trilogy that will open up a much wider world.
Now, off to practice that handshake.
Final Verdict: Significantly better-looking than your average basement cult leader, Brit Marling gives an ethereal performance in a film that will leave you thinking about faith, skepticism, and the many alternative forms of sustenance that may be required to survive futuristic world crises.