Sound of My Voice Directed by: Zal Batmanglij Cast: Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, Brit Marling Running Time: 1 hr 25 mins Rating: R Release Date: May 11, 2012
PLOT: Two wannabe documentary filmmakers (Denham and Vicius) try to infiltrate a cult led by a woman (Marling) who claims to be from the future.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Fans of Marling's previous movie Another Earth, or those who enjoy sitting through slow indie movies that may or may not follow through on providing tension.
Last year, upcoming actress Brit Marling commanded her own type of film cult in the movie festival circuit, especially at Sundance. There, the writer/actress debuted two films - this one, and Another Earth, which was released June 2011. They both earned distribution from the same company (Fox Searchlight, which is no small feat), and both films lit up the blogosphere when played at SXSW (Another Earth was given a secret screening in the festival's largest venue). It is worth noting that the films are creatively related - Marling co-wrote both with their two different directors, and all three of them work together. So basically, these movies are siblings.
Similarly to Another Earth, Sound of My Voice is a "mystery box" kind of independent movie that wants to generate more questions than answers. Not just about the movie itself (though there are plenty of loose ends here) but the world around us. "Why do we trust authority, man?" "What do we really believe in, man?" "What if time travel were really possible, man?" However, the biggest curiosity this box of question marks will create is, "Why don't these hippies just go to Bonnaroo and perform a mass suicide there?"
What sets Voice apart from Earth is that this one lacks a lot of intrigue in its open doors. Sure, Another Earth might have been over-indulgent in its "Brit Marling goes grocery shopping" scenes, but there was still a mystery that kept you wanting to move from one scene to the next. Here, the vagueness comes in the wrong packaging, and you just don't care.
It's an overload. There are so many mysteries that could easily have answers, or at least more support, and their lack of fulfillment indicates hollow writing more than an intriguing subtext. It's like the movie fails its own test concerning a teased audience's tolerance for incomplete story elements. On top of this, without giving away too much (this is a movie that definitely deserves the emptiest expectations possible), this isn't a cult you'd ever be afraid to skip out on, show up late because you ate too much fast food, or expose to the press (unlike the one recently created masterfully by Sean Durkin in Martha Marcy May Marlene). At the same time, Marling's performance as the cult's center kooky prophet is too stiff with its whimsical nature, and sometimes laughably so.
Our surrogates, played by Denham and Vicius, do a fine job of taking us into the film's center subject, setting up the movie's many possibilities that the filmmakers hope causes debate amongst viewers. The problem is that we just don't feel enough curiosity to stick around and see what happens next.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10