Director: Zal Batmanglij
Brit Marling (Another Earth)
Cast: Marling (Another Earth), Christopher Denham (Shutter Island)
"Somewhere in the valley, there is a woman living in a basement. She's actually amassing followers. These people believe that she will actually lead them to salvation, or whatever. And yes, she's dangerous - but we have to see this thing through. All the way."
Peter Aiken (Christopher Denham)
As co-writer and actress in Another Earth (2011) and now Sound of My Voice, Brit Marling seems to delight in ambiguity, be it transporting to a doppelganging other earth or playing a time traveler returning to recruit cult members and meet her mother. She has a Twilight Zone affinity for the strange, a talent for teasing out the uncertain in daily living. She's in love with possibilities which have no definite nature, just suggestions.
Documentarians Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) join a cult to produce a film that exposes Maggie (Marling) as a fraudulent cult leader claiming to be from 2054. Although the film has some of the feel of the current found footage craze (see Blair Witch, among others), it's a straight forward narrative broken into 10 chapters, each with a tantalizing cliffhanger quality that keeps an otherwise minimalist, budget production moving along.
For instance, although the location of the cult in a basement is not cinematic pretty, the slow-pace and assured direction of Zal Batmanglij makes the narrative interesting enough to create anxiety about the fate of the protagonists.
The sedentary presentation keeps Sound of My Voice from being compelling although the concept of time travel helps the time-travel gravity of discussion after the film. Even if a viewer doesn't believe in the sci-fi aspect, the thrust of the narrative from chapter to chapter and curiosity about the fate of the undercover journalists gives it a thriller-like storyline that covers over the weakness of the science fiction.
Then there's indie favorite Marling. Whether she's writing or acting, she's a force in contemporary low-budget production. Very much of our time.