Sound Of My Voice
Brit Marling shines in an effectively thought-provoking look at cult life.
An engaging but rather unoriginal drama, Sound of my Voice boasts a well-acted and immersive story, heavy on atmosphere. Brit Marling’s rise continues, with the Another Earth star co-writing and acting here.
Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) are a couple who turn documentary filmmakers to attempt to expose local cult leader Maggie (Marling), who claims to be from the future, as a fraud. As they become further involved in the life of the group, the lines begin to blur, and it is no longer clear who is serving which agenda.
The set-up is an intriguing one, with the very first scene an arresting sight as Peter and Lorna are showered, stripped and bound as part of an alarming initiation into Maggie’s inner circle. Cult life has already been explored so effectively this year with Martha Marcy May Marlene, and fans of Sean Durkin’s film will see a lot of similarities here. The script is a tad derivative, offering little by way of a fresh insight into cult behaviour, but is powered by such a captivating, menacing turn by Marling that it is difficult not to be drawn in.
Marling plays Maggie with a skilful balance, showing the heavily flawed character in various circumstances that keep the audience guessing as to just how much of a con artist she may be. There is a genuinely sinister edge to the performance, with the pseudo –religious public persona showing the odd crack, through which much can be read. Marling’s is a star very much on the rise, and on this evidence we can expect a good many thoughtful performances in the near future. Hers is undoubtedly the centrepiece of the film, but Denham’s determined, occasionally misguided Peter makes for a compelling lead, and Vicius’ slightly damaged performance makes for an effective chemistry between the screen couple.
This is the sort of film that is nigh-on impossible to spoil, as ambiguous as it is. There is much here to keep the audience guessing, with so much of the film’s plot open to interpretation that it is certainly a challenging watch. This will not be to the taste of all – indeed, the script does have an occasionally irritating tendency to answer questions with more questions, but to be forced to think through what we see is no bad thing.
The plot of Sound of my Voice feels strangely organic – driven effectively by its characters, we aren’t asked to make too many leaps of faith. With even the more unsettling sequences given a realistic feel through the close framing of director Zat Batmanglij, the disturbing subject matter feels well-researched and nastily plausible.
Not the most original treatment of cult life, then, but Sound of my Voice does come recommended, driven by well-acted characters and giving the viewer plenty to question. Brit Marling really is a talent, and this film should prove yet another platform to showcase the actress/ filmmaker.