Sound of My Voice | Film review
The makers of Another Earth beam in another mind-bender.
Here’s how it works: You follow the directions to the house, pull your car into the garage and don’t get out until you’re told. A gray-haired gentleman will perform an elaborate patty-cake handshake. If you pass that test, you join the others at the next level. Soon, a Madonna with an oxygen tank—her name is Maggie (cowriter Brit Marling)—appears, smiling benevolently at her “faithful” followers. She will lead them to salvation. Also, she claims to have traveled back in time from the year 2054.
That two new recruits, Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius), are trying to infiltrate this cult in order to make a documentary almost seems beside the point. There lies Sound of My Voice’s weakness as a thriller and its strength as a mind-blower. Cowriter-director Zal Batmanglij and his conspirator Marling, who herself cowrote the parallel-planet head-scratcher Another Earth, are more interested in (and adept at) manufacturing mood than narrative momentum; they treat the characters’ journalistic quest as an excuse to showcase creepazoid-as-fuck cult behavior. Which the film does, in spades: You will never hear the Cranberries’ “Dreams” or watch a dozen people vomit up apples the same way again.
Ambiguities trump answers, and possibly even logic. For those who aren’t burdened by such things, the loopy, off-kilter pace and frontal-lobe frying provide their own peerless, unconventional pleasures. It’s a cult film, in more ways than one.