It’s curious that of the three films Fox Searchlight acquired at 2011′s Sundance Film Festival, two happened to star Brit Marling and two happened to be about the religious occult … and of those three, “Sound of My Voice” saw domestic release last. It feels like a rather unfortunate afterthought after “Martha Marcy May Marlene” tantalized with its brilliant ambiguity and “Another Earth” provided a much more showy showcase for Marling.
“It’s a lonely road if a momma don’t think their child is pretty,” remarked Abileen in “The Help,” and “Sound of My Voice” sure feels like a forgotten stepchild for Fox Searchlight. It’s evident right away from what’s on the screen. As the leader of a strange religious movement, Brit Marling seems to be walking eggshells as she treads familiar ground as Maggie, the bizarre and disturbed leader of the cult. She claims to be from the future – 2054, to be exact – and is allergic to everything in the current time.
Opportunistic documentary filmmakers Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) get word of Maggie’s magnetism and plan an infiltration … and a subsequent movie. But – SHOCKER – they start to lose track of their objectivity as they grow closer to Maggie and get deeper inside the world of the cult, leading to a rift between the filmmaking (and romantic) couple.
Debut director Zal Batmanglij, who also co-wrote the film with star Brit Marling, does a half-decent job of keeping taut suspense throughout the film. That’s largely due to the structure of their script; the content, however, is what makes the film second fiddle to “Martha Marcy May Marlene.” The peculiarities of Maggie and the basement cult, ranging from a bizarre handshake to growing her own fruit, add nothing to the story. Rather than drawing you in, they pull you out of the film, forcing you to wonder who the heck even thought of that. The film leaves us to solve a puzzle without all the pieces, but it also leaves you so apathetic that it’s a puzzle you are all too happy not to extend the mental effort to solve.
That essentially concludes my “review” of the film, but before I end, I do have one more thing to say. While I was watching the movie, I couldn’t help but giggle at the uninentional comedy of the film. That’s nothing new for me as I often use humor as a tool to break a monotonous viewing experience, yet this was different. The more I giggled, the more I realized that “Sound of My Voice” has some serious potential as the first major comedy to explore occult religion.
Thus, I propose a remake of “Sound of My Voice,” only this time as a comedy. It’s the kind of movie we SHOULD be remaking: one that is perfectible, not already perfect. So to Fox Searchlight (or whoever is looking at providing finance for the film), I will even do you the favor of casting the remake. You’re welcome.
Amy Poehler as Maggie:
Charlie Day as Peter:
Aubrey Plaza as Lorna:
Christopher Walken as Klaus, Maggie’s old and creepy keeper:
Thank me later. B- /