Brit Marling, nominated for Independent Spirit Award for her first screenplay (Another Earth) returns with this equally weird & wonderful film (co-written with Zal Batmanglij) that trades inner space for outer space. This time Marling is terrific as a cult leader who turns the mind of an investigator (Christopher Denham) to mush. We all know “Maggie” has to be a fraud… & yet… Click HERE for our FF2 haiku.
Brit Marling, nominated for a “Best First Screenplay” award from IFP earlier this year for the weird & wonderful Another Earth (in which she also starred), returns with the equally weird & wonderful Sound of My Voice. This time Marling got a “Best Supporting Female” nomination even though I think she’s clearly the lead. Best yet, despite their weird wonderfulness, both films are completely different!
Another Earth is kinda-sorta a Sci-Fi film in which characters appear to be traveling back & forth to a planet somewhere in outer space. Sound of My Voice, on the other hand, is all about inner space & kinda sorta resembles a feature length episode of Rod Serling’s iconic TV series The Twilight Zone (the ultimate expression of claustrophobic Cold War paranoia).
Call her the “Best Lead Female,” call her “Best Supporting Female,” whatever, Marling is absolutely terrific as “Maggie,” the leader of a mysterious cult that meets somewhere in Greater LA in what appears to be an ordinary house but which holds a whole lot of weird vibes inside.
A guy named “Peter” (Christopher Denham) has become obsessed with Maggie. He is sure Maggie is a fraud and he’s determined to expose her, but in order to do that, Peter & his girl friend “Lorna” (Nicole Vicius) must pretend to be committed, obedient cult members. At first Lorna goes along, but the closer Peter gets to Maggie, the more Lorna wonders if, just maybe, Peter is already lost to her.
I don’t want to give away any of the plot elements and frankly I’m not quite convinced that they actually hang together all that well. In fact my gut tells me that worrying about all the little details might even spoil the fun. What Sound of My Voice gets right is the power dynamic as a charismatic personality gets inside the head of someone relatively normal, and then gradually takes over.
For those of us who remember that hundreds of members of the People’s Temple voluntarily drank cyanide down in Jonestown Guyana in 1978, we will always wonder: How on earth did Jim Jones succeed in convincing them to kill their loved ones–especially their children–and then commit suicide? But the fact that cult leaders like Jim Jones and David Koresh (leader of the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas) have actually done these horrible things makes the character of Maggie (surrounded by her acolytes) deeply fascinating.
At one point, Maggie intuitively zeroes in on Peter’s weak spot and she will not stop until she has turned him to jelly. It’s a terrifying scene, stomach-churning and somehow utterly plausible.
Marling is beautiful but her look is very unconventional. She is not “womanly” or the least bit feminine, and she’s way too intense, serious, and damnably intelligent to be called pretty. According to IMDb, she will soon be in some more mainstream features (such as the upcoming Arbitrage starring Richard Gere). I will be fascinated to see how her career progresses!
NOTE: Director Mike Cahill is the credited co-writer of Another Earth, and director Zal Batmanglij is the credited co-writer of Sound of My Voice.
Photo Credits: © 2012 – Fox Searchlight Pictures. All rights reserved.