A surprising low budget gem, Sound Of My Voice (2011, dir. Zal Batmanglij) tells the story of young couple Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius), who are shooting a documentary on cults and those who follow them. Peter and Lorna learn of a specific group of people who follow a woman named Maggie (Brit Marling), who claims to be from the future. As Peter and Lorna become initiated into the group, their views on cults and the personal meanings behind their quest for truth begins to change, particularly as Maggie begins involving the two in her own agenda.
I watched this film on a bit of a whim. I was intrigued by Brit Marling’s performance in I Origins (2014), so decided to watch this without really knowing the story or who else was involved. I’m glad I did see this because whilst it wasn’t the most groundbreaking piece of cinema I’ve seen, it certainly wasn’t a bad way to spend 85 minutes. Often films about cults can be told in a melodramatic way, and are sometimes told as straight-up horror movies, which doesn’t allow for a subtle buildup of tension. I’m glad to say that this film has a great buildup of tension over time that allows for a sufficiently mindbending conclusion. The storytelling is also very sound, although it does contain some loose ends that are not tied up.
As aforementioned, it cannot be denied that Sound Of My Voice is super low budget. The key moments of the film take place in a basement, for crying out loud. But aside from the fact that the locations give the budget away, the film looks absolutely amazing, the direction and cinematography is stellar, and director Zal Batmanglij has certainly worked with what he was given to the best of his ability. The cinematography gives an edgy and tense feel to the film, and the use of warm tone whites and greys for the scenes where Peter and Lorna attend meetings with Maggie’s followers lends a clinical and futuristic feel. The overall feel is minimalistic, which works perfectly when you don’t have a Michael Bay budget. I would say that visually, and creatively, Sound Of My Voice is a success.
Finally, Brit Marling is quite amazing, her calm and charming demeanour being the perfect fit for Maggie’s kind of cult. Christopher Denham and Nicole Vicius also give minimalistic performances that matches the tone of the film very well indeed. I’d definitely suggest watching Sound Of My Voice if you have the opportunity to. Some may feel that the ending is a bit of a cop-out, but I don’t mind some ambiguity here and there. Don’t go in to watching this with any expectations for it to break the mold, but just enjoy the strange trip.
Watch the trailer here.