views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Sound Of My Voice (15)
Cineworld, West India Quay
25th June 2012


After Another Earth, star and co-writer Brit Marling has brought a second slightly pretentious sci-fi flick with indie sentiments to the big screen joined by newbie director Zal Batmanglij. It's my opinion that if you have Batman in your name, you'd better have earned it - and he mostly does. Mostly.

I suspect this will be one of those films that plays better the less you know about it. Quite simply, a journalist/teacher, Peter, and his girlfriend Lorna decide to infiltrate and expose a cult whose leader, Maggie, claims she's from the future. Going in, I was expecting a found footage-style mockumentary which, although naturalistic, this thankfully isn't. It is, however, a fairly beautifully shot, stripped-down low budget specimen which will undoubtedly appeal to the arthouse crowd.

The film eschews too much backstory, instead focusing on the here-and-now of the cult, and in particular Peter's increasing obsession with the story. Part Sean Durkin's Martha Mary May Marlene, Another Earth and Ti West's House of the Devil, the immediacy of the film racks up the suspense and new revelations are, beat for beat, perfectly timed.

It's easy to suggest casting herself as Maggie makes this another vanity project for Marling. However she is genuinely as captivating and charismatic as a cult leader should be. Acting seemingly out of benevolence, there is a lot of hidden rage and faults that are genuinely unsettling when exposed. It's easy to see why Peter, played well as a troubled everyman by Christopher Denham, is both mesmerised and repulsed by her. It's your typical Clarice Starling relationship and it really works here.

While the initially intriguing twists and turns entertain, they do fail in the final payoff. Batmanglij and Marling seem intent on giving the audience plenty to talk about but very little concrete evidence to base any theories on. It's all allusions, suggestions and whispers. The truly thought-provoking and open-to-interpretation Terrence Malick this ain't. But it's not M Night Shyamalan either, and for that we should be thankful.

Dreamlike and ethereal, there's no questioning Sound of My Voice sucks you in. It's just a shame that, similar to a dream, the non-ending is abrupt and disappointing.

Sound Of My Voice was released in the UK on 3rd August 2012.

Nearest tube station: West India Quay (DLR)

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