Director: Zal Batmanglij
Starring: Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, Brit Marling, Davenia McFadden.
Written by: Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij
Running Time: 85 mins
Release date: 3rd August 2012
Remember the first time you saw Donnie Darko? (If you haven’t seen Donnie Darko, why not?) How did you feel? Did you feel cheated or, like me, did you feel that you have experienced a masterpiece that challenged you mentally? I never thought I would see a film like that again…until now. The Sound of my Voice is a truly amazing experience because it manages to manipulate you and draw you in then leave you scratching your head by the end.
Peter and Lorna are making a documentary together about cults. They have been accepted into one and each night, they are told to strip, shower, are blind-folded and handcuffed and driven to a mysterious house where they are sent into the basement to await the cult’s leader, a beautiful blonde woman named Maggie. Hooked up to oxygen and having blood transfusions, Maggie offers something that other cults don’t. She claims to come from the future and is willing to share her wisdom to the chosen few. At first Peter and Lorna aren’t convinced and refuse to believe but as time passes, they are drawn into a much darker and stranger world that could ultimately tear them apart.
Starting off quite slowly, this is a film that doesn’t need to rush to get its point and you find yourself literally listening to every single word that is spoken, as if you are becoming one of the cult members. It is all credit to the writing, from director Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling, who also plays Maggie. This is a script of such high quality and you are taken in by the lyricalness of the piece, the overall tone. Batmanglij’s direction is also perfect for the piece, never allowing his actors to overact but also relying heavily on the silences. And boy, are they noticable! There is also a nice sub-plot involving a girl from a school that Peter is working at (but I won’t spoil it for you).
With very little in soundtrack or music, the film has long moments when nothing is said and yet so much actually is and thankfully at the screening I saw it, the audience understood this and not a rustle from a popcorn bag could be heard.
The performances are riveting too. Christopher Denham, as the cynical Peter, is magnificent. His is a quiet, controlled performance that carries so much of the film. The scene in which he has to open up about his mother is truly heart-stopping, also considering the consequences (I won’t give too much away, just I advise you not to eat anything while watching!) As his partner, Lorna, beautiful, turned-up nosed Nicole Vicius is also very strong. Not given a scene like Denham, she still is incredibly believable and you feel for her.
Then there is Ms Marling. A stunningly looking young woman who manages to grab you and keep your attention throughout. You are almost hypnotised by her as she delivers some very long speeches. Last year she graced the screens with the equally strange, Another Earth (which she also co-wrote) she is a talent that will be well worth keeping an eye on.
At a slender 85 mins, this is a film that doesn’t outstay its welcome and the use of just a few simple settings, mostly in the stark basement, it never gets boring either. Not once did I look at my watch or start getting the numb bum that I experience when a film has lost me, it offers so much to talk about that I am sure it will stay with me for a very long time.
If you like your films with lots of action and a nice, neat ending then it’s best you look for your entertainment elsewhere. However, if you want to be treated like an adult and with some intelligence, then I urge you to see this truly awesome film. After all the fairly mundane and mediocre rubbish I have seen lately, it is so refreshing to have a film that has completely blown me away. It could be one of my films of the year…or even, THE film of the year.