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Review: ‘Sound of my Voice’ sure to cater to more than a cult following

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Maggie, an enigmatic blonde, woke up in a bathtub not knowing who or where she was, wandered the streets for weeks, then realized that a tattoo on her body meant that she was from the future. Her story is scheduled to hit the big screen Friday.

“Sound of My Voice” is an independent film co-written by Brit Marling, who stars in the film, and the film’s director, Zal Batmanglij. The film isn’t the duo’s first collaboration, as it has worked together on films such as “The Recordist” and “Another Earth.”

“Sound of my Voice” centers around investigative journalist, Peter, and his girlfriend, Lorna, who are lured into another world while trying to do a documentary about a cult whose leader claims to be from the future.

Maggie, the cult leader, played by Marling, claims she is from the year 2054, and promises her followers that she will take them to a safe place once the “civil war” that will devastate the world begins. She dwells in a basement, and the location is kept secret.

When Maggie asks Peter to bring her an 8-year-old girl, his and Lorna’s devotion to the cult is questioned.

The beginning made me very nervous and anxious. The opening scenes, in which the couple followed instructions to pull their car into a garage, shower, and put on hospital gowns, then were blind-folded, their hands bound by zip ties and driven to a secret location, made me really uneasy.

I really liked how the film gave the audience background about the main characters. We were informed that Peter’s mother was diagnosed with cancer when he was a boy. She was also part of a cult and didn’t believe in modern medicine, which resulted in her death. We found out that Lorna was a rich girl who grew up as the daughter of high-profile parents who were never around, which led to her drug abuse. This explained why the couple was driven to do their work.

The scenes in which the followers proved their loyalty to Maggie were the most disturbing to me. In one scene, they were all sitting around a black plastic sheet, from which I saw nothing good coming. They were asked to eat and purge an apple, which represented self-hatred and shame. I literally had to close me eyes for those minutes of the film.

Another disturbing scene is when Maggie asks her devotees to eat live worms, which were representative of the scarcity for food on the future.

The storyline was fantastic, but the wobbly camera work made me ill. At one point, there was a shot taken of the wing of an airborne airplane and it made me so queasy, I had to close my eyes. There were steady and shaky shots, and it made me wonder if it was on purpose to make the audience feel out of sorts. If that was the intention, it worked.

This film evoked many emotions and reactions for me, ranging from disgust to wonderment, and I would not have had it any other way. A film that can evoke that kind of human atonement is well worth my time. The word on the street is the director is working on a trilogy, which is intriguing and makes perfect sense.

I recommend this film to anyone who likes science-fiction, cults, journalism, suspense, drama and loves a cliffhanger.

Grade: A-

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