At first glance, Brit Marling seems like just another Hollywood pretty face. Her long, effortless blond curls are almost their own character in last year’s Another Earth and also in Sound of My Voice, opening today. Add some beautiful baby blues and a sultry voice, and you think you have her all figured out as the latest empty-headed bombshell on the way up.
You’d be wrong.
She’s smart as a whip.
The Georgetown graduate not only stars in her movies, but she co-writes the trippy, philosophical sci-fi scripts as well.
In Sound of My Voice, Marling plays Maggie, a hippy-dippy prophetess who disburses her wisdom and threats from a basement bunker in the suburbs. Her followers move into the basement to be near her and hear her predictions of the imminent collapse of civilization.
Maggie, you see, claims to be from the future, sent back to rescue the ones she loves from the coming apocalypse.
Journalist Peter (Christopher Denham) and his girlfriend Lorna (Nicole Vicuis) aren’t buying it.
Posing as new converts, they penetrate the basement, guarded with secrecy but not weapons, to acquire footage for the story that will make their careers. Cults, after all, are news. But as Maggie becomes more and more mesmerizing and more frightening in her demands, they both wonder how far they can go.
Marling plays mesmerizing cult leader well, so well she may consider it as a career if Hollywood doesn’t work out.
With Zal Batmanglij, who directs, Marling wrote the script, weaving in questions of faith and trust. The movie has an interesting premise and an authentic feel to it, but would be better served as a short or perhaps one part of a larger movie.
There’s just not quite enough there there.
The question of what happens to Maggie and her followers is teased out for 88 minutes and probably could have been satisfactorily done in half that. Some characters, for instance Davenia McFadden as a quasi-governmental agent on Maggie’s tail, are given short shift.
Plus, the setting, most of which happens, as you guessed, in a suburban basement, just screams “indie filmmakers used mom’s house for movie.”
As another point in evidence for Brit Marling’s skill and insight, the movie works quite well. As a stand alone film to see on a night out, it just doesn’t have quite enough to warrant a ticket.