I went to see Sound of My Voice only because it stars Brit Marling from Another Earth. She co-wrote both films but she was such a warm, sincere presence I wanted to see her work again. There are similar tones and themes, but I don’t think Sound is as strong. Marling is still amazing though.
Peter and Lorna join a cult led by Maggie (Marling). Maggie says she’s from the year 2054, and she’s hooked up to tubes and oxygen tanks because present day air makes her sick. Peter’s plan is to expose Maggie’s cult and bring her down. Even when it seems like she’s getting through to him, Peter maintains he’s just playing along.
One of Maggie’s first lessons is to feed her underlings the apple of logic and make them throw it up. Peter stonewalls because vomiting would actually reveal the remote transmitter he swallowed. Maggie seems to make a revelation about Peter’s mother, or does she?
Another disciple, Lam, questions Maggie’s veracity. She has the perfect answer for why she can’t tell him what’s going to happen tomorrow. 2010 is 20 years before she was born. When Maggie sings a song from the future and it’s a hit from the ‘90s, Lam presses her more and she’s had enough. Lam is forcibly removed, his girlfriend Christie stays.
There’s a small amount of discussion of the future. Maggie talks about the music industry, and a present day character who she claims is related to her. That’s the same kind of subtle mention of sci-fi that Another Earth executed so well, but leaving open the question of whether or not it’s true makes it more of a mystery than a sci-fi.
The ambiguity between psychological therapy and a cult would be more effective if Peter weren’t so self-righteous. Maggie doesn’t ultimately challenge him because he’s s closed off. Lorna only has the scantest of conversations on the subject, sounding more like a nagging girlfriend than a voice of reason.
The scores of these indie movies just feel cheep. They have this steady tone that’s really just white noise, so it would be more effective to take it out completely. When the score gets a little bigger, it just feels like homemade simulation, not a real movie score. Not that it’s orchestra or nothing, but it really calls attention when the score is just plain old sound.
Like Another Earth, Marling delivers a strong payoff to the mystery, only in Sound that payoff leads to another incident that totally leaves you hanging. Open endings are fine, but this isn’t one you can really interpret. It just starts a whole new subplot. So Marling fans can revel in her performance as Maggie, but the Marling magic isn’t in the script.