In Sound Of My Voice, Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius), a couple and documentary filmmaking team, infiltrate a
mysterious group led by an enigmatic young woman named Maggie (Brit
Marling). Intent on exposing her as a charlatan and freeing the
followers from her grip, Peter and Lorna start to question their
objective and each other and they unravel the secrets of Maggie's
The popularity of Cults in the media is ever present; stories about mass suicides, men having multiple wives and sexual relations with their daughters, or just the run-of-the-mill group of people who prescribe to an other-idea of society. The media loves these types of stories and the movie-going audience is far from an exception. Sound Of My Voice is a movie about a Cult, it is also an introspective science fiction narrative.
Lorna (Nicole Vicius) and Peter (Christopher Denham) are a couple embarking on an undercover mission in order to make a documentary. The subject of the documentary, and reason for their needing to be secretive about their plan to make a film, is a woman named Maggie and her cultish group of followers. After "training" for months Peter and Lorna are finally going to meet Maggie, after going through a vigorous cleansing process at an unknown location, and then being driven to another unknown location blindfolded and bound. All of the concerns over safety and hygiene is not simply a quirky rule for the cult, it is a method to keep their leader Maggie (Brit Marling) safe. Because, well, Maggie is from the future. Or is she? Such is the topic for the documentary, answering that very question as to whether Maggie is a fraud--if it was ever questionable.
Cult behavior has basic elements, the most important being control by the leader over their subjects. Maggie controls her followers via fear, for the future, and the upcoming war that she will train all of them to fight with her in to protect their world. She is manipulative, calculating, and beautiful. The influence she has over the group immense, and Peter soon becomes drawn into her web, doubting whether his assumptions about her being a fraud were incorrect. Lorna, on the other hand, is not taken with Maggie, causing a rift between the two lovers and the beginning of a power-play between Maggie and them both. Additionally there is a young girl, Abigail, who will play a major part in the narrative and the fate of Maggie, Peter, and Lorna--but that would be spoiling all the fun to reveal more details.
Sound Of My Voice was made on a shoe-string budget, shot over the course of 18-days, and can be categorized as truly an independent film. It proves you can make an excellent film, full of interesting characters, thematic twists, and an unconventional science fiction narrative without the use of computer generated special effects, Star power, or a high concept idea. Sound Of My Voice does have elements of other science fiction narratives present, but it uses them to its advantage to create, albeit not the most unique film, but a film with style and substance that makes a viewer think. Sound Of My Voice shows creativity with the use of very little, and all the makings of a successful cult following--no pun intended.
Director Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling (Maggie) co-wrote the screenplay for Sound Of My Voice as a vehicle for both of them to display their talents, as was noted during an interview with them at the film's press day. The screenplay is nothing short of fantastic, if not perplexing with a touch of frustration. Taking place in chapters the narrative is consistently broken, and time displaced for the viewer. This works to enable the viewer to breathe, analyze, and adjust to the changing waves the film offers. Each chapter holds important information, and each chapter end a twist or revelation that requires additional thought. The use of the chapters make the structure of the film similar to that of a television program, with the cliffhanger rounding out the end of an episode. It also evokes the same feeling of ending a chapter of a novel, where you have the decision to keep reading or stop and return at a later time. With Sound Of My Voice there are multiple cliffhangers, but the ending is the largest of all where the revelation of whether Maggie is indeed from the future takes place; the answer is solely up to the viewer to decide--perplexing and frustrating all the same--but also perfectly crafted and executed by Marling and Batmanglij so the audience is left wanting more. The possibility for a sequel is without question, the desire to see Maggie, Peter, Abigail, and Lorna's story as a television show great.
Sound Of My Voice's screenplay is full of intriguing characters, and raises plenty of questions. The Cult aspect of the story is imperative in casting doubt on Maggie, but the displacement of beliefs by Peter and Lorna, and in turn the viewer, is what keeps it interesting. The additional inclusion of characters who are not fleshed-out, like Abigail and the Detective who is searching for Maggie, enable the story to grow bigger as more information is revealed and withheld. A tinge of Terminator theory intermingles with the possibility of Helter Skelter. Sound Of My Voice is the beginning of a greater story, a greater set of films, and when the credits roll on the final chapter of the film you, as the viewer, cannot wait to find yourself lost in Maggie's world again.
Drama, Science Fiction
April 27, 2012