Cults are intriguing because we know nothing of the world that goes on inside of them. Peter and Lorna were curious enough to know what was happening that they joined one in hopes of secretly filming footage to expose to the public when they made a documentary about how fake cults can be. Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) are a young couple that used to spend their evenings sneaking alcohol into art house movie theaters and sitting around waiting for their lives to start. One day, they stood up and decided to do something that mattered.
We come in as the couple are first being initiated into the cult. They have put in the ground work and paid their dues to the cult enough to be trusted to be let into the leader’s home, where she dwells in the basement and never leaves. We spend very little time getting to know the couple as we are immediately fascinated by this mysterious Maggie, who is the ring leader of this cult. After Lorna and Peter have scrubbed their bodies to a near sterile state, dropped off all belongings and donned hospital gowns, they are driven to an unknown location and given the opportunity to bask in the glow of… a person from the future.
That’s right, Maggie (Brit Marling) claims to be from the year 2054, how she got here she hasn’t a clue. She shows very little evidence of her future state besides a tiny 54 tattooed on her ankle and claims to being allergic to all food that isn’t grown organically in house. She has a small army of followers that do her bidding without question and Peter and Lorna are out to prove that she is a fraud. The problem is Maggie’s charisma almost immediately ropes in Peter. Turmoil between Peter and Lorna starts when Lorna feels jealousy and points out that Peter is no longer trying to expose a cult, now he’s just in a cult.
Between all the secret handshakes and devout strangers willing to help this young woman, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. It is one thing to say that Brit Marling is a gorgeous woman, but this was another level of gazing. The strangeness of this cult and wanting to discover just as much as Peter and Lorna if it’s all a fraud was so high that the theater was completely silent through most of the film save for humorous moments. I was most impressed with Director Zal Batmanglij’s ability to linger the answers of her secret in front of our faces and then pull back each time to keep the curiosity at it’s peak. This is also one of those endings that will divide a theater into optimists or the unimaginative.
The ending, for me, was one of the greatest moments in that it turns the table on the viewer as you ask for more and just like Maggie’s eccentricity, there is no answer that could fill that void. If you get a chance to see Sound of My Voice in your town, I would recommend checking it out with a buddy, as you will both be glancing to each other throughout the film with confusion and a bit of shock in your eyes. It will play a couple more times at the SXSW festival. You can catch it Sunday the 13th at the Alamo Drafthouse at 11:30 a.m. and Saturday the 19th at the Alamo Ritz at 9:30 p.m.
I give Sound of My Voice 3 “chain-reaction vomit circles” out of 5
by Angela Davis