Sound of My Voice - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sound of My Voice Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 2, 2013
In the end of 2011, I was amazed and struggling with pessimism and optimism, Lars von Trier's Melancholia and Mike Cahill's Another Earth, respectively. The idea of another Earth was more breathable, especially in times of the end of a year where you are supposed to say out loud New Year's resolutions. And then, Kepler-22b was discovered.

I put Melancholia and Another Earth together because it was a way to analyze and discuss skepticism and belief within a more scientific than religious point of view. No, I wasn't worried with the prophecies for 2012, but I got impressed with the following discoveries of a planet being devoured by its star. Perhaps, deep inside I asked myself: and if? So, in this New Year's Eve, a little bit disappointed once everything remained the same, I decided to rewatch Another Earth. I haven't noticed before that Brit Marling, the lead actress, co-wrote the script with director Mike Cahill, what took me to another movie also co-written by her: Sound of My Voice. That's curious to note how the work of some (most?) writers/directors is really connected (a succession of different ideas leading to a homogeneity) . There's a line in Another Earth that is, for me, the exactly connection between both movies:

"Within our lifetimes, we've marveled as biologists have managed to look at ever smaller and smaller things. And astronomers have looked further and further into the dark night sky, back in time and out in space. But maybe the most mysterious of all is neither the small nor the large: it's us, up close. Could we even recognize ourselves, and if we did, would we know ourselves? What would we say to ourselves? What would we learn from ourselves? What would we really like to see if we could stand outside ourselves and look at us?"

The Sound of My Voice can be seen as the separation line between the micro and the macro, probably where we, as humans, really stand. If another Earth put us in perspective, the sound of my voice reveals us: unsure, fickle, afraid, starving for salvation and certainties.

For me it was clear and obvious that the movie was a view on humanity and not on sci-fi; that it was way closer to Martha Marcy May Marlene than to Another Earth. Until I read an interview of Marling, Zal Batmanglij and Christopher Denham (who played Peter) to Milk Made and started to wonder: am I that skeptical?


Reviewing some scenes, rethinking some points, the answer is no. The script has some holes that don't seem to be intentional, at least not in the concept of open-end. If we clear see childhood abuse and, perhaps, its consequences in the character of the cult leader it's because of a sequence of scenes where after Maggie describes an abusive situation/memory, we see Abigail with her dad (that, in a previous scene, is already portrayed to look like a sexual abuser about to act/attack) and start to glue the pieces of what we saw before. There're lot of signs, right from the beginning*, and they are so many that they tend to induce us to be sure that Maggie is a fraud. But isn't that part of the game? I wouldn't belive that we are talking about a flimsy script. That, that is perhaps a trap. A trap to show us how similar we are from Peter - narrow-minded, self-involved, pretentious - and how, like him, we would easily end up eating the poisoned apple.

"What do you wanna do? You wanna go back to our normal lives. That's fine. We can do that. I can teach all day. You can stay home and write and surf the web. And on the weekends we can get wasted at various art installations or sneak forties into random foreign films. And then it's suddenly, like, we wake up and, whoops, where did our 20s go? But somewhere in the Valley there is a woman living in a basement who claims to be from the future. She's actually amassing followers. These people who believe that she'll lead them to salvation or whatever. And, yes, she's dangerous, but we have to see this thing through all the way or we're chumps. Don't you wanna do something that matters?"

*Maggie wakes up in a bathtub in some motel room. She has no idea of who she is , she can't remeber anything but her name and birthdate. She wanders aimlessly through the streets, living on the edge. Klaus, that had heard about her, finds and takes care of her. In some weeks she starts to remember some things, violent images. She thinks she has lost her mind, until Klaus explains to her who she is. What does that sound like? Pretty much like any fanatic cult after their messiah, no? But the only question that really intrigues me - because throughout the movie I never doubt that Maggie was a con artist - is how Peter and Lorna found out about the cult.

** I like that: "Time travel doesn't mean that the person who comes back isn't ordinary. If the military, let's say, in the future develops the ability to time travel and a soldier comes back, that's a very human person who's flawed and difficult and complicated and likes video games and listens to his iPod."
Super Reviewer
July 9, 2012
Equal parts baffling and unsettling, with a gritty realism and hypnotic stillness that proves quite mesmerizing and menacing at the same time. Britt Marling has a remarkable screen presence that makes you question and then re-question your ability to correctly perceive what's happening in front of you. Engrossing and memorable.
Super Reviewer
½ July 5, 2012
This is one of those movies that you just can't stop talking about after you watch it. Some will love it, some may hate it (I kinda did) but I cannot deny that this was worth watching as it raised some serious questions about faith and personal beliefs.
Super Reviewer
½ May 21, 2012
Sound of My Voice is a very effective, gripping low budget indie movie, done with intelligence and imagination. Made with modest resources and unknown actors (except for writer and indie actress Brit Marling from Another Earth) the film feels fresh and surprising throughout, and manages to suggest something big and important despite being shot mostly with close ups in white walled rooms.

It's the story of an attractive, amateur investigative journalist couple (Denham and Vicius) who join an apparent cult in order to debunk it. The cult is led by a white robed wearing Californian blonde, Maggie who claims to come from the year 2054. The cult members have been selected for some scary task (possibly a political insurrection with guns), and are blindfolded and sanitized before their daily indoctrination sessions.

Marling is superbly understated yet powerful and wields her charismatic power with a soft, whispering voice and intense conviction, and occasionally cruelty. the cruelty derived from her perception and exploitation of the weakness of others. Denham and Vicius are an apparently normal couple with the usual smattering of human of tragedy and dysfunctional problems. Maggie eventually stresses their bond, through her extreme commitment test, forcing them to choose between the cult and their relationship.

I was rapt throughout and admired the constantly interesting and escalating stakes in the script. I was disappointed (spoiler alert) by the cop out ending, which doesn't definitively decide whether Maggie is a charlatan or not and take the easy, ambiguous way out. You may have a more definitive conclusion. Look for this one, it's terrific.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ April 28, 2012
Meeting Brit Marling after the feeling in the world! She is a muse for the director and commands the screen with her words. A very ambiguous film that doesn't become too surreal but also docent become too linear. A slow burn classic for 2012!
Super Reviewer
May 7, 2012
"Sound of My Voice" starts with Peter(Christopher Denham), a substitute teacher, and Lorna(Nicole Vicius) driving to a house in the middle of the night. There, they shower, scrub clean, and put on hospital gowns before, along with Christine(Constance Wu) and Lam(Alvin Lam), being driven to another house where in the basement, they listen in rapt attention to Maggie(Brit Marling, who also co-wrote with director Zal Batmanglij) tell of her waking without memories in a motel bathtub. She is rescued from the streets by Klaus(Richard Wharton), now her major domo, and has recovered her memories enough to recall she is from the year 2054 but not her health which due to allergies in the present day is in a precarious state. Peter has a different opinion, intending to make a documentary to expose her as a fraud before somebody gets hurt.

"Sound of My Voice" is a marvelously ambiguous and clever future cult movie, featuring a cult actress, that is possibly about a cult.(Seriously, there were more people in that basement than at the screening I was at. Apparently, everybody else was at the other movie about a substitute teacher - "Monsieur Lazhar.") The movie uses a broad meaning of time travel that also includes going back in one's memories, getting inside the characters' heads and ours, simultaneously. All that proves is that you need James Urbaniak to make a screwy time travel movie. But since usually the words "it's bigger on the inside" have to be uttered for someone to truly believe in time travel, it's rather a case of these people wanting to be part of something bigger than themselves, as Peter points out, including himself. So, what does that say about documentary filmmakers? I just hope you know you can't knit on an airplane, anymore.
Super Reviewer
½ June 9, 2015
Sound of My Voice represents a low-budget indie film that both defies expectations but also fails to elevate them. In it, we find a young couple attempt to infiltrate a bizarre cult that follows a young woman claiming to be from the future. As events unfold, the intrigue widens, and the mystery seems to envelope all involved. It's a character study, a thriller, and a drama. A unique blend of indie of more mainstream suspense dramas, it's a film that deserves to be seen.

Despite being an unknown cast, one has to venerate the performances from all involved, especially by its most accomplished actor, the fantastic Brit Marling. She inhibits her role to an extraordinary degree, and brings just the right amount of ambiguity. That ambiguity serves the film well, as it's never predictable, yet does leave us a bit unfulfilled as the ending seems overly artsy and wavering.

3.5/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
½ December 30, 2013
The ending is a little too ambiguous to be entirely satisfying, but Sound of My Voice is a suspenseful and entertaining indie thriller that further proves that writer/actress Brit Marling and director Zal Batmanglij are a talented duo.
Super Reviewer
½ January 12, 2013
What an enjoyment was to watch this psychological thriller directed by Zal Batmanglij . The film was co-written by Batmanglij and Brit Marling, and is set in Los Angeles, where substitute schoolteacher Peter and aspiring writer Lorna, a couple in their twenties, are embarking on their first undercover documentary project. Their subject is a small cult led by the mysterious Maggie. Both Peter and Lorna have personal motivations to expose Maggie as a fraud. But very soon they found that this assignment is not really a simple one.

The casting was done superbly and we find outstanding acting abilities of Brit Marling as Maggie and very solid performances from Christopher Denham as Peter Aitken and Nicole Vicius as Lorna Michaelson. If I knew that Sound of My Voice was also named among the Top Indie Films at Festivals in 2011 on IndieWire's criticWIRE. I would watch it much earlier. In September 2012, the film won the Octopus d'Or at the Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival, for the best international feature film. Don't worry, it's never too late to enjoy it in full. Great cinematography, wonderful story telling following very smoothly developed screenplay, exciting acting and excellent directing - what more can we ask for?
Super Reviewer
December 5, 2012
A very good thriller!
Super Reviewer
August 19, 2012
I enjoyed the american indie "Another Earth" and was keen to see what else writer and star; Brit Marling had for this other sci-fi mystery/drama with director; Zal Batmanglij. It follows a couple who are making a documentary on cults and come across this secrect underground sect whose leader (Marling) is said to be from the future. The biggest question to the mystery is she really from the future? or is she just a con artist? Much like "Another Earth" its a well thought out and constucted piece with some intriguing questions. Both sides of the mystery seem to be both convincing to the plot's progression, the rest cast are also very good along the line. I do however recomend this film for essential viewing.
Super Reviewer
July 22, 2012
Thought provoking film that reminded me a little of the YA novel Sati by Christopher Pike, in which a young woman claims she is God. Here a young woman, seemingly the leader of a cult, claims she is from the future. Magnetically played by the talented Brit Marling - who also cowrote the screenplay - she brings a strange physicality at once brittle, warm and otherworldly. A fascinating open ended film.
Super Reviewer
½ May 24, 2013
Marling continues to impress in a role that apparently she penned herself. My expectation is that she will eventually get a strong following...
Super Reviewer
½ April 29, 2012
Hands down, Brit Marling is stunning. Carrying the entire film, "Sound Of My Voice" is made whole solely by her performance and her's alone. Yes, there are supporting cast in the form of creepy cult members that deliver the right amount of unease, and there is a main cast, who struggle through their performances with lack of conviction and star power, but with Marling comes this sense of "higher power". Within a sea of unknowns, Marling is the shining light that you constantly wait to see again, and within the context of the film, this works wonderfully. Yet another ambiguous end, the screenplay could have dropped many more "what-ifs" to make the ending hold that much more weight. Without Marling, this film would have been nothing. Without the eerie factor and ambiguous ending, this film would have been nothing. But thanks to those additions, this film achieves intriguing, while still remaining underwhelming.
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2012
The more I reflect on it, the more I think that the "ambiguity" of the ending is too forced to work on any level. Its disappointing because while the rest of the film may not have been great, it at least was working around a solid premise that seemed to be definitive in what it was trying to say.
Super Reviewer
August 11, 2012
I really liked 'Another Earth', I thought it was full of indie charm and Brit Marling to be a terrific screen presence so I was really looking forward to her next film. She co-write this too with director Zal Batmanglij, and for what it is worth her performance as the mesmerising prophet of the cult is great. She still is in my eyes a fantastic screen presence and one to definitely keep an eye out for over the next few years. Unfortunately, unlike 'Another Earth' the screenplay does not have the indie charm factor, but instead is frustrating like an annoying vague hipster who doesn't really know what they want to say, but strings together just enough cool words to hopefully sound prophetic. There is a lot that is built up in the first two chapters that purposely never get answered in an attempt to be vague, ambiguous and interesting. It did not work for me, because I don't think the first two acts were strong and interesting enough to carry a vague final act, I saw the first to acts as supporting roles for a hopeful, climactic finally. However, I may not have enjoyed this film but I still am really eager to see what Brit Marling does next.
March 25, 2015
Creepy thriller. Leaves much unanswered, but that is part of the appeal. Fun movie to watch and discuss w/ others.
February 28, 2015
The idea for this movie was a good one, but everything about it made it painful to sit through. I was hoping for an ending to give purpose to this cult's existence, but it was a real letdown.
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