The Sound of My Voice is like a darker and ultimately less satisfying companion piece to the engaging time travel fantasy Safety Not Guaranteed. In The Sound of My Voice the mysterious person who claims to travel through time is a cult leader named Maggie (Brit Marling – Another Earth) who tells her followers she has returned to our time from the year 2054 to purge humanity of its misguided beliefs.
Attempting to expose her are two investigative journalists Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) who go undercover as cult members. Their initiation is at first quite benign with people sitting around in white robes in a basement mediating. Soon, however, the gentle new age ambience gives way to more intense psychological manipulation, bizarre often disgusting rituals and the suspicion that Maggie has a more sinister agenda for her minions.
The induction process also begins to unearth deep-seated anxieties and traumas within Peter and Lorna that confound their journalistic motives and objectivity and threaten their relationship.
For the most part this is a tense and unnerving exploration of the creepy cult world and the way dangerous charismatic persuaders like Maggie use twisted logic, conflated ideas, half-truths and large henchman to confuse and control people.
The film’s matter of fact, almost documentary style imbues the film with a realism that makes us feel as if we are in the basement being indoctrinated by Maggie.
Unfortunately the film can’t sustain its powerful grip to the end and opts for an ambiguous and disappointing finale.
The three leads, however, are excellent particularly Brit Marling as the disturbingly creepy Maggie who, despite being thin, pale and sickly, has an unsettling and commanding presence.
This is three quarters of a really good film and worth seeing for the compelling early scenes. An underdone script and the all too common problem of the sloppy ending, however, prevent this from being one of the year’s best.
Nick’s rating: Three and a half stars.
Director(s): Zal Batmanglij
Release date: 22nd Nov 2012
Running time: 84 mins.
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