Movie News & Reviews

'Sound of My Voice': It takes a while to work

Brit Marling stars as Maggie, a cult leader who claims to be from the future, in Sound of My Voice. Marling also co-wrote the film.
Brit Marling stars as Maggie, a cult leader who claims to be from the future, in Sound of My Voice. Marling also co-wrote the film.

Sound of My Voice grabs you early on when a woman named Maggie calmly tells a group of followers that she is from the year 2054.

Brit Marling, the actress who plays that woman and who co-wrote Sound of My Voice, has a thing for dramas with vaguely supernatural overtones. She also starred in and co-wrote last year's Another Earth, in which a damaged young woman dreams of restarting her life on a mirror planet. Sci-fi stuff aside, both movies are really about people who are dissatisfied with their going-nowhere lives and who imagine dramatic ways to change them.

Sound follows two documentary filmmakers who infiltrate Maggie's cult to debunk her story. But the more they investigate Maggie's' story, the more they are drawn to this intuitive woman who really does seem to know things about them and their futures. Or, as one of the filmmakers laments, "We wanted to make this documentary, but now we're in it."

The cult stuff and Marling's quiet performance are convincing, but as a writer, she doesn't have the courage of her convictions. Her Sound screenplay gets too wrapped up in the spurious backstories of the filmmakers, as if a few Freudian details can explain everything about them. Shaky directorial choices — some odd choices in the supporting cast, tedious whine-folk on the soundtrack — also send Sound astray.

Much of the way, it's a 50/50 call whether Sound of My Voice is worth going out of your way to see. Many movies, of course, have interesting premises they don't know what to do with, but that turns out not to be the case here. The middle of the film veers off course, but Sound ends with a couple of scenes that reframe everything and that seem likely to send moviegoers home talking about what they've seen and heard.

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