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“Sound of My Voice”: Why No Buzz?

May 9, 2012

If there’s a dramatic equivalent of Girls‘ Lena Dunham, it might be Brit Marling. The twentysomething phenom is cowriting, producing and starring in her own films—heady, haunting sci-fi stories like Another Earth (one of last year’s best indies) and the recently released Sound of My Voice. Yet unlike Dunham, whose brilliant HBO sitcom landed her on the cover of New York Magazine before it even premiered, Marling remains largely under the media radar. What gives?

You can’t blame Fox Searchlight, which has accompanied each film’s release with a striking ad campaign—and, in the case of Voice, the unusual tactic of allowing Internet users to watch the first 12 minutes for free. (I dare you to click on it and not be dying to find out what happens next). In the excerpt—one of the film’s ten chapters—an investigative journalist (Shutter Island‘s Christopher Denham) and his girlfriend (Nicole Vicius) infiltrate a cult whose leader (Marling) claims to be from the future.

Like last year’s equally disturbing cult thriller Martha May Marcy Marlene, Voice keeps you off-balance. You’re never sure if Marling’s character is a complete fraud, or if the documentarians are falling under her spell. But there’s no resisting the spell cast by Marling and cowriter-director Zal Batmanglij. This kind of movie could easily cross over into laughable camp, but it remains quietly compelling from its opening shot to its head-scratching final twist.

Voice covers some of the same ground as director Mike Cahill’s Another Earth, which also started with a simple yet outlandish idea (everybody may have a doppelganger in outer space) and wove a hypnotically down-to-earth narrative out of it. Marling and Batmanglij’s next film, The East, also sounds similar to Voice: It’s about a woman who infiltrates an anarchist group and falls for its leader (Alexander Skarsgard).

Even if Marling’s already repeating herself, she’s so accomplished as a writer and an actress, I’m willing to follow her wherever she takes me. And isn’t that the definition of a true cult leader?

Have you discovered Brit Marling yet? Share your testimony!

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4 Comments
  1. Loved “Another Earth.” Looking forward to this one …

  2. arielbraverman permalink

    So, I just saw it last night, and I’m still not sure. In a lot of ways, where Another Earth seemed minimal and subtle, SOMV seemed a little stingy with the details. I really really wanted to love it, but I feel like it was simply too short and shallow. And I’m saying this because the parts where the dialogue and imagery were good, they were really really good. I could have used another hour of film (minus the gratuitous hipster bike riding shots. I mean, seriously. )

    I’ll have to think about this one a little more.

    • bruceafretts permalink

      I agree it could’ve been longer and gone deeper, but I’m still thinking about the movie, too, which I think is a good sign.

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