“Sound Of My Voice” is about a couple of investigative journalists, Peter and Lorna, who decide to make a documentary about cults and they decide to infiltrate and expose one of these cults who is being led by a young woman, Maggie, who claims to be from the future – 2054 to be exact. Going in they know that the woman and her beliefs are fraudulent but the further they go and the deeper they get, the more they find themselves getting caught up in the cult’s beliefs until it starts to become very dangerous for the couple. Finally, when Maggie asks Peter to do something so outrageous and illegal, it is time to decide what they truly believe in and whether or not Maggie is the real deal. It is the age old conflict of faith versus reason.
I loved this film for many reasons. It is obviously a small film made on a low budget (in fact it was originally made to premiere as an internet serial if they could not release it as a film, thus the episodic nature of the film), but it has been executed brilliantly and it is so full of intelligent ideas. Scenes are played out until their conclusion and yet we may never by privy to the importance of their nature until later in the film. Perfect examples are the introduction of two characters, a little girl near the start of the film and a black woman near the end, we are intrigued by their story but have no idea how they fit into the plot as a whole until much later. Due to the nature of the story and because we are never exactly sure what to believe, it focuses our mind (well, it did mine) and we become mesmerized by the story, in a similar way Peter and Lorna themselves become mesmerized by the cult.
“Sound Of My Voice” has been brilliantly written by director Zal Batmanglij and star Brit Marling. It is so layered and full of depth as our journalists who initially only saw façade begin to look inside themselves and start to find the truth. Marling is the really ace of the film here, not only is she a co-writer but she plays the head of the cult, Maggie. She is simply luminous, the camera loves her and she has this presence that is hard to explain. It is easy to see how these people are drawn to this woman and believe in everything she says. She puts you at ease immediately, but underneath her beauty you feel that there is incredible darkness. Marling co-wrote and starred in last year’s “Another Earth” and while I actually prefer “Sound Of My Voice” to that film, there is no doubt that this talented girl is carving herself a unique career in film.
Director Zal Batmanglij does a fantastic job of telling this story economically and is smart to never over explain things. He gives us bits and pieces of information and draws us in, until we find ourselves, like our journalists, entranced by the fact that maybe Maggie is in fact from the future. As I mentioned before the film is episodic in nature, but for some reason this just adds to the experience.
I mentioned how outstanding Brit Marling is in the acting stakes, but my only negative of “Sound Of My Voice” is the performance from Nicole Vicius as Lorna. It is not that she is bad, she is just not as strong as she should have been and she does not command your attention. If she is on screen with another actor your eyes automatically leave her.
Overall I really liked this film. I love the open ended nature which forced my brain to work and I especially liked the finale because of the fact that it refused to answer certain questions and left it up to the audience to make up their own minds. This was a smart move because it encourages discussion which makes the film linger on in the minds long after it is finished. It is obvious that both Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling are going to have a great future in cinema and I look forward to their new film together, “The East”, which is already completed.