Brit Marling Speaks Volumes in ‘Sound of My Voice’

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HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Fresh off her Spirit Award nominated film “Another Earth,” the up-and-coming filmmaker Brit Marling again writes and stars in “Sound of My Voice,” portraying another mysterious and mood-inducing character. The future of humanity is the basis for this simple but vivid narrative.

This is not as good as “Another Earth,” but that’s not to say it isn’t worth experiencing. It has the feel of a chilling “Twilight Zone” episode, establishing a certain aura about Marling’s character, then unraveling her environment by exposing elements that may or may not pertain to the overall thesis. This film is more about emotion, trust and whether Maggie’s story is to be believed, and leaves those themes hanging in the air at the conclusion, to ponder within our own inherent morality.

Brit Marling is a woman named Maggie, and she is holed up in a nondescript suburban tract home. A fledgling reporter named Peter (Christopher Denham) gets wind of her whereabouts, and seeks to expose the cult she has gathered in the home. To get to her requires a significant outreach, Peter and his girlfriend Lorna (Nicole Vicius) go undercover as members of the cult, which involves sterile washings, having nothing on their person when entering the house and participation in indoctrination sessions. According to Maggie, she has traveled from a post-apocalyptic future and will lead the cult members through the impending disaster.

Brit Marling (Maggie) Advises the Faithful in ‘Sound of My Voice’
Brit Marling (Maggie) Advises the Faithful in ‘Sound of My Voice’
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

The sessions deal with tests of loyalty, with Peter and Lorna getting more pulled in by the gentle yet strident quality of Maggie’s tenor. The couple have issues from their younger days – Peter with his mother and Lorna with her party life – and both get vulnerably exposed by Maggie’s sessions. When a government agent (Davenia McFadden) reaches out to Lorna to infiltrate the cult even further, the truth that is revealed will affect everybody.

Brit Marling is the luminous center of story, and knows her strengths in this character, which involves both a physical weakness (her body has a hard time adapting to the present time) and a strong leadership presence. She is particularly good at dressing down non-believers, coldly dismissing them if they dare question her veracity. As in “Another Earth,” she imbues her persona with a deep well of emotion, which makes both characters ethereal and almost magical. There is so much behind everything she generates, that she creates a passionate enigma.

The supporting players are well-formed and play off the Maggie character instinctively. Denham as Peter remains the skeptic, but goes through with a risky proposition in the name of “journalism.” He is a witness to the unveiling of the surface truths, and also has the vulnerable spot with a dead mother. Maggie’s position as matriarch to the cult is irresistible to his lost boy soul, and all of his machinations in his trying to “get the story” are influenced by that feeling. Even the government bureaucrat is given a backstory. Her obsessive compulsive actions when checking into a hotel give a hint to either her true mission or fraudulence.

The story has some weak spots, and some of who Maggie is gets lost in fast explanations or allegations which are not followed through. But the gist of who she is becomes most important, and given the government interest, can the other characters – and in essence the audience – believe and trust in what is being shown? Those themes that are strongest, and Marling’s script (co-written with director Zal Batmangiij) keeps impressing those moments upon the weird-vibe environment.

Richard Wharton (left, as Klaus), Nicole Vicius (Lorna) and Christopher Denham (Peter) in ‘Sound of My Voice’
Richard Wharton (left, as Klaus), Nicole Vicius (Lorna) and Christopher Denham (Peter) in ‘Sound of My Voice’
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

The true mystery in life, especially in the filtering of an individual’s perspective regarding who they influence and why, is a stellar afterthought in “Sound of My Voice.” Are we all just looking for a fantasy parental figure, as Peter is? Is the future a threat to our present day, if it exists symbolically through a mystery figure? Did they know that having Maggie come from the future in the way she did a nod to the “Terminator” series? That one is probably answered “yes.”

Brit Marling does represent a new breed of actor, one that formulates her own unique character and positions it in appropriately thought-provoking situations. Her perspective will be an influence on cinema, and we’ll certainly know that in this film and the future.

“Sound of My Voice” continues its limited release in Chicago. Check local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Brit Marling, Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, Richard Wharton and Davenia McFadden. Written by Brit Marling and Zal Batmangiij. Directed by Zal Batmangiij. Rated “R”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2012 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

Manny be down's picture

Sound of my voice

This movie was a mystery to me so I didn’t care 4 it

ziggy one of the best's picture

Voice

I would of has a hard time trying to figure this out

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