The excellent Sound of My Voice further heralds Marling’s talents
In 2011, Brit Marling took sci-fi and indie-film fans by surprise with Another Earth, a contemplative character piece written and performed by the young Chicagoan. Alongside that debut, Marling was also hard at work on Sound of My Voice, which soon will see its UK release. Again, Marling pulls double duty in this sci-fi tinged thriller, which sees her take the role of a woman allegedly from the future. The result is the knock-out blow of Marling’s one-two punch debut. Suspenseful and gripping, Sound of My Voice is exciting both as a work unto itself and as a glimpse of the talent and potential within Marling.
Suspense is built from the get-go, as a couple engage in a mysterious preparation before finally being taken to the home of Maggie (Marling), where odd cult-like rituals ensue. The couple in question are Peter (Christopher Denham), a substitute teacher, and Lorna (Nicole Vicius), a reformed socialite, who secretly aim to put together a documentary about the group they perceive to be a cult and whose lives may be at risk from Maggie’s manipulation. Seeds of doubt are planted at every available turn and not only about whether Maggie is what she says. There’s a certain K-Pax-ian influence at play here, but as each day and interaction pass, Sound of My Voice becomes more and more enthralling. With no idea of what lies ahead or how one of Peter’s young students factors into things, Marling’s story is truly a joy to experience. The finale may leave the audience asking questions, but it’s the right kind of questions, those intentionally left open to interpretation, that will be on their lips. Sound of My Voice provides the type of clever psychology that is sadly lacking in most modern Hollywood sci-fi flicks.
Not only does Marling seem to have an intrinsic understanding of how to elicit a thoughtful response to the meaning of her material, she also does a remarkable job in delivering it. As the possible time-traveller, Marling displays the type of charisma essential to entrancing a group of people. Initially bubbly, she progresses through various styles of manipulation, be it striking a patronising, harsh tone or offering a warm reconciliation. There is never any doubt as to how well Marling knows the character and her portrayal of Maggie is nothing short of captivating. Denham does a terrific job in his role as the sceptic whose motivations become as uncertain as the truth to Maggie’s claims. Vicius never matches the standard set around her, but she manages to cover Lorna’s bases well enough.
Shot with an often unstable hand held camera, Sound of My Voice takes a fittingly documentary-like presentation. With numbered days and added background information of the would-be documentarians, it’s a tactic that lends to the overall mystery of exactly what is unfolding. The only drawback to the film is that its brief runtime leaves one wishing there was more time dedicated to certain strands of the plot. It’s not necessarily that Marling and director Zal Batmanglij provide too little information, but rather that it’s all so fascinating that it’s easy to crave further exploration of the various secondary characters whose roles may be minor, but prove to be vital to the plot.
Marling’s Sound of My Voice is brilliant piece of storytelling that makes for riveting, reality based sci-fi. Thought-provoking and a thriller in the true sense of the word, Marling excels on screen as she brings her suspense filled story to fruition. Without a big budget or the need for special effects, Sound of My Voice proves how capable of creating engrossing, entertaining and exciting science fiction Marling really is. With relative ease, she puts the big timers like Ridley Scott’s Prometheus to shame. 9/10