Sound of My Voice

A new review from The Borg Queen.

Sound of My Voice – C+

Ever since seeing Another Earth, which was written by its leading actress, Brit Marling, I was excited to see Sound of My Voice, another project by Ms. Marling.  Although I enjoyed most of the film, the ending was so unsatisfying that I ultimately felt like I wasted my time watching the film.


The story is about a journalist and his girlfriend who infiltrate a cult led by a mysterious woman named Maggie (played by Brit Marling).  Maggie claims to be from the year 2054 and to have come back in time to “save” people important to her (who, by some act of mystery, happen to be those who come into the cult) from some unspecified, catastrophic event.  The journalist and his girlfriend join the cult to make a documentary exposing Maggie as a fraud.  The question remains:  Is Maggie really from the future or is she a con artist?  Why does she collect blood from her cult members?  Ms. Marling plays Maggie with a magnetism that pulls you in, and you can understand why these cult members form a bond with her.  The journalist is also a substitute teacher, and there is a side story about a peculiar young girl in his class who bears a striking resemblance to Maggie.  She never takes off a red hat, has an inexplicable episode at school where she calls another girl a “terrorist,” and when she comes home she runs to her room every day to make strange structures out of nothing but black legos until her father comes in to put her to bed (where he injects her with something between her toes and then lies next to her in bed, presumably until she falls asleep).  Is this girl connected to Maggie?  What is the significance of the red hat and legos?  Is there abuse with the father taking place and, if so, how does that fit into the Maggie storyline, if at all?  There is also another side story about an FBI agent who acts quite strangly upon arriving at a hotel room.  Does she have a connection to Maggie?  Does she have proof that Maggie is a fraud?  Why does she want to find Maggie?  Throughout the film, questions continue to arise and you easily get pulled into the movie.  As in Another Earth, Ms. Marling has a unique appeal that is very pleasing to watch on screen.  The acting overall is excellent and the film is remarkably intelligent – except for the ending.  Without giving anything away, the end of the film fails to answer many questions.  Unfortunately, this is not a film where you can go back and watch it again looking for missed clues (though there might be some) to answer those lingering questions.  Upon reading an interview with Ms. Marling, I learned that she and her co-writer apparently wrote the the film to be left open to interpretation – something I wish I had known before hitting “play” on my DVD player.  I googled to see if there is any online explanation for the film – to find that none exists.  Like others, I praise Ms. Marling and her co-author, Zal Batmanglij, for striving to make intelligent films that depart from the norm, and I believe that Sound of My Voice is artistically exceptional.  But leaving the audience without a satisfying ending is no doubt the reason why critics enjoy the firm substantially more than we normal folks.  If you know going into the film that many questions will not be answered, and if you are fine with that, then I recommend you give this film a try.  Otherwise, watch Another Earth, which I enjoyed very much.


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