Sound of My Voice (2011)
Despite an ending that leaves a bit too much for the imagination to chew on. “Sound of My Voice” is an entrancing thriller with a pair of phenomenal performances from its two leads. Rising above its restricted budget with hauntingly beautiful content and an unsettling hypnotic effect. What is most disturbingly scary about “Sound of my Voice” is the impending vulnerability that is near impossible to resist. As the story progresses, we are forced to abandon this initial feeling of invincibility until it completely trails off into unfamiliarity. Ultimately, we are forced to accept that there are things that we do not know, that we don’t have an answer for. It’s a bittersweet, tingling experience. While the thrilling factor does tail off slightly. It is efficiently replaced with an undistinguishable yearning for answers to the unknown.
Peter (Denham) is a substitue teacher living in Los Angeles with his girlfriend Lorna (Vicius). The two are embarking on their first undercover journalism project. The target is a small cult run by the mysterious and beautifully striking Maggie (Marling). After Peter and Lorna finish the long and excruciating initiation tests, the cult deems them ready to finally meet Maggie. Upon stripping, showering, changing clothes, and being blindfolded. Peter and Lorna are taken in a van with other new recruits to an undisclosed location. Upon completing the final test, which is a secret handshake, Peter and Lorna come face to face with Maggie. She claims to have woken up naked, in a bathtub, with no memories or knowledge of who she is. Eventually regaining her strength and some mental imagery, Maggie concludes she is a time-traveler from the year 2054.
Directed and co-written by Zal Batmanglij. Who appears to have finally broken through after his directorial debut, The Recordist, was slightly subpar. Now, he has arguably one of the most anticipated films of 2013 in “The East” and seems well on his way to making a name for himself. The same can be said for the radiant and mesmerizing Brit Marling. Who not only stars in the film, but co-wrote it as well. Marling is that rare breed of beauty, brains, and brawn and is slowly emerging as one of the top actresses in the business. Marling, best known for her multi-faceted role in “Another Earth,” is garnering more attention from high-profile gigs. After starring alongside Robert Redford and Shia LaBeouf in the recently released, “The Company You Keep.” Marling is set to co-star Batmanglij’s “The East” with Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard.
Apart from a jittery, premature, seemingly non-existent final act. “Sound of my Voice” almost plays its indie, low budget characteristics perfectly. Nevertheless, by the time the climax roles around, it’s exceedingly hard to stay mad at Batmanglij and Marling. In the end, these tiny inconsistencies are translucent and easily forgiven. One thing that Marling and company know definitively is that there is a vast difference between seductive and sedating. Which is why they’re able to exploit these exceptional traits. Using them to lure the viewer in and then begin lulling us into a state of defencelessness. Concluding in the audiences inability to conjure up individualistic thoughts and ideals, effectively simulating the main objective of a cult. “Sound of my Voice” and its creators not only know what they’re doing, but are able to do it astoundingly well.
Besides Marling, the cast features Christopher Denham, who is absolutely skyrocketing and the diverse Nicole Vicius. Without question, Marling gives the most illuminated performance as a devious and immaculate cult leader from the future. Her voice carries a depth filled with harmony and pleasure, and for such a transience thing, it has remarkable ambience. Nearly matching Marling’s exquisite portrayal is Denham. His pretentiousness and anger, however misinformed, is totally believable. Heading under cover to infiltrate a dangerous cult. Denham delivers the steady-handed, emotionally vacant goods. Lost in the charisma of Marling and Denham’s performances is Vicius, who does a terrific job in her supporting role. Without her as somewhat of a foundation, the film would helplessly falter.
Unbearably tense and at times vividly horrific. “Sound of My Voice” is an outstanding thriller filled with resonating performances from the entire cast.
Sound of My Voice: 8 out of 10.