A few weeks ago I attended the press screening for an independent film called The Sound of My Voice. If you go the site you can watch the first few minutes; I, instead, elected to watch the trailer which reveals more context, but I promise that the investment of watching the full movie is worth it.
Without giving much away, the plotline is simple enough: Peter and Lorna infiltrate this cult-like organization to meet Maggie, who claims she’s from the future. So the Big Question is – Is she? Or, like Peter’s mother years before, is she suckering people in to drink the Kool-Aid? (I won’t say).
I had minor familiarity with the moviemakers, specifically Brit Marling, who had gained critical acclaim with a film released in 2011 called Another Earth , which she was also a co-writer and star of. While I had been curious about that film (I decided not to watch it, to be a little less bias to this film, plus I did confuse it with Lars von Trier’s Melancholia), I decided to wait so this could be my introduction to Brit Marling. It’s fair to say I’m not only impressed, but hope to see much more of her offerings, in story and acting.
After the screening the press had a short Skype’d Q&A with the director, Zal Batmanglij, and Brit, which was thoroughly engaging. We were gifted plain white tee shirts, rub on tattoos like Maggie’s (which indicate she’s [possibly] from 2054) and other such goodies. We discussed several things, including Zal’s admiration of Brit (and how to keep things under budget – get an amazing actress like her before she’s unaffordable). They discussed the integral hand gestures as illuminated in the beginning of the film (and throughout), which initially feels juvenile but which is more important than you’d think. They confessed to choosing many WTF options when they were stumped about where to go, such as a song in the film, and the song for the end credits.
What I loved most about the film, although Wikipedia deems it an “American psychological thriller” is that it’s actually a quiet, thought-provoking sci-fi piece. It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve seen it and I still remember moments in it, and feelings from those moments. That a film resonates that way is what all film should aspire to. The use of whites and muted colors reminded me of the sci-fi films in the 70’s, and the ambiguity of some facts, not even answered at the end, massages thought, much as I suspect Another Earth does (a film currently on my Must See list).
I miss seeing films that are this simple, no bombastic special effects that (can) disrupt a damn fine story. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally jazzed for The Avengers (and, thankfully), hearing good buzz) but I’m always one to root for the underdog with heart too. That is what The Sound of My Voice has. The faces may not be familiar (though I’d say, some not for long), but the story will make you think about things larger than yourself, and it deals with the elements of time travel, hoaxes, and emotions in a very human way. Hopefully, you live in or near a city that is showing this small film with very Big ideas.