DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

 
SOUND OF MY VOICE (director/writer: Zal Batmanglij; screenwriter: Brit Marling; cinematographer: Rachel Morrison; editor: Tamara Meem; music: Rostam Batmanglij; cast: Christopher Denham (Peter), Nicole Vicius (Lorna), Brit Marling (Maggie), Richard Wharton (Klaus), Davenia McFadden (Carole Briggs), Kandice Stroh (Joanne), Avery Pohl (Abigail Pritchett), Alvin Lam (Lam); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Hans Ritter/Ms. Marling/Shelley Surpin; Fox Searchlight Pictures; 2011)

"Left me wanting a more convincing ending I could reflect on rather than a story that seemed dubious and invented and coming to a dead-end."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

In the creepy but manipulative low-budget indie film directed by Zal Batmanglij, that's co-written by him and Brit Marling, a young unmarried couple, the uptight Peter (Christopher Denham) and former cocaine user Lorna (Nicole Vicius), have joined a mysterious cult group to secretly shoot a documentary of charismatic cult leader Maggie (Brit Marling) and expose her as a dangerous charlatan. They are brought blindfolded to an undisclosed basement of a house in a Los Angeles neighborhood, where they are forced to perform a cleansing ritual before introduced to about ten other cult members who are hoping to gain eternal salvation from the guidance of the white-shrouded and attached to an oxygen tank leader of their cult group, the time-traveler Maggie (Brit Marling)--a beautiful wholesome looking blonde, who supposedly traveled to the Earth in 2010 from the year 2054.

We're kept in the dark with sketchy details and a sketchy back story whether Maggie is really a time-traveler or a phony, and we are never sure what her intentions are with her followers. The film is shot in a docudrama style with ten sections that build in tension to the climax, where at last Maggie orders elementary schoolteacher Peter to bring his very bright eight-year-old student (Avery Pohl) to meet her because she is her mother.

Even after the meeting takes place between the unlikely mom and unlikely daughter, we are never sure of the truth as the filmmaker lets us come to our own conclusion. Though well-shot, effective in being a chiller and soundly creating a scenario that is at least semi-plausible, the deus ex machina plot line might be unsettling but after all the hocus-pocus the situation left me wanting a more convincing ending I could reflect on rather than a story that seemed dubious and invented and coming to a dead-end.

REVIEWED ON 6/18/2012       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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