Film Rec

“Sound of My Voice” (2011)

sound of my voice

If you’re looking for a smart and character-driven thriller, check out Sound of My Voice. The plot centers on two aspiring documentarians who infiltrate a secretive cult to expose it, only for one of the filmmakers to start falling under the sway of the cult’s enigmatic leader. Things get weird.

The movie was directed by Zal Batmanglij and co-written by him and Brit Marling, who also stars. Along with their frequent collaborator Mike Cahill, this trio deserves more recognition for their nuanced genre fare. Sound of My Voice is probably their most logistically simple film, but it’s also their most fascinating.

Three Reasons to Watch:

  • The Ambiguity: The film is like a puzzle-box without a solution. It dares you to figure it out, and there’s no real correct answer. I could list all of details that leave the audience wondering, but that would spoil it for the viewer. The best way to enjoy this film is to watch it with a friend and discuss your observations and interpretations afterwards.
  • Terrific Lead Role: Brit Marling wrote herself a very juicy part as Maggie, the cult leader who may or may not be what she appears. I found her quite fascinating, especially in the way she can shift from warm and humble to cold and judgmental on a dime, and yet always seem to maintain her aura of charisma. The film does an excellent job of providing evidence for her true nature and yet keeping the viewer guessing the whole time.
  • The Atmosphere: In spite of its low budget and limited locations, the film manages to concoct some interesting visuals that make you feel like you’ve entered into a completely different world that operates under its own rules. While the stark white cult dens convey a sense of claustrophobia and disorientation, I could also easily see how someone might find himself falling into this world.

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You About:

  • The Talkiness: Like many of the films I’ve recommended, the genre of Sound of My Voice is hard to pin down, and calling it a “thriller” can be a little misleading. While there are plenty of terrifically tense scenes, the thrills are mostly limited to dialogue, so you’ll want to get your car chase fix elsewhere.


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