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“Sound of My Voice” – Review (SO-SO POSITIVE)

May 27, 2012

“Sound of My Voice” is quite the complicated film. It’s a strong film, very strong, until it’s last ten minutes arrive. Sundance favorite, Brit Marling continues to write another brave and hard to pitch movie to the masses. Last year was the sci-fi drama “Another Earth”, another film of hers I found hard to grasp. This time she (re)teams with feature debut director and co-writer, Zal Batmanglij, the last time the pair worked together was in the short film “The Recordist”. The screenplay brings up interesting themes of trust, belief, the power to controll other beliefs, and acceptance.

Peter (Christopher Denham) & Lorna (Nicole Vicius) are working on making a documentary about cults and how they affect people. The two eager filmmaker infiltrate an unamed cult run by a beautiful woman named Maggie (Marling), who claims to be from the year 2054, the future. The point of her ‘cult’ is to warn people about the impending dangers the future holds, without giving too much away, she gathers lost souls who are willing to open their minds to the possibility that she is who she claims to be, and accept the challenge that by following her, they can make a difference in the future. Peter & Lorna are skeptical about their time traveling leader, as they should, but the two begin to split ways, as Peter finds himself listening to Maggie closer than ever, more so than his girlfriend Lorna ever could.

Last years “Martha Marcy May Marlene”, another 2011 Sundance hit, explored the psycholological torment a cult can bring upon a person, once they purge themself from it,”Sound of My Voice” isn’t as sadistic as that film, although it is unnerving to experience at times. The limits Magge pushes her followers and Peter start to push the audience to uncomfortable territories; having the followers vomit out all the poisons of the world (literally), fasting for a week, and eating worms. These are strange demands, sure, but Maggie’s intentions are just in ways that show she’s a person who believes in purification of the human body, ironically enough she’s a smoker, she’s a time traveler not a saint.

Although the movie is in fact good, strong acting, and strong character development on the leads makes this movie an almost winner, it’s the ending that’s problematic. Without giving too much away, certain events reveal the possibility that Maggie may in fact NOT be a time traveler from the year 2054, and there are officials of the law looking for her for crimes she has committed in the past. Now, she makes a final request onto Peter that she must have him bring an 8-year-old girl he substitute teaches to her, reason being, the little girl is Maggie’s mother. What follows after their meeting leads to a sudden hault to everything and then finally ends. Now, unless I missed something, the end of the film leaves us guessing with our own assumptions. Usually I like this in a film, but here it’s very frusterating, because it was getting very juicy during the last 15 minutes, and then we get nothing.

Perhaps I need to view this film again in the future, but for now, I would only recommend this film if you’re a fan of “Martha Marcy May Marlene” or “Another Earth”, other than that I’m not sure what else I can say about this film for the time being.

GRADE: B-

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