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The Dansville Online
  • Movie review: 'Sound of My Voice' examines the inner workings of a cult

  • This is a low-budget drama that peeks into the mysterious doings of a mysterious woman named Maggie (Brit Marling) who lures lamb-like followers into her way of life.

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  • If you’re not a fan of films about cults, you might want to skip this one. It’s a low-budget drama that peeks into the mysterious doings of a mysterious woman named Maggie (Brit Marling) who lures lamb-like followers into her way of life – a way that, she promises, will bring them to what she calls “a safe place.” Groups of them, 10 at a time, are indeed brought somewhere. After being picked up at their homes, they’re blindfolded, then driven to a nondescript suburban house, where the blindfolds come off, they shower, and are eventually taken to their leader.
    Maggie is a smooth-talking, willowy blonde woman who has the ability to instantly calm down anyone with stories about her personal journey, one that has taken her from the year 2054 to the present, where she lived in the streets, then realized she needed special shelter because she’s “allergic to everything in this time period.” Hold on, is this about cults or is it a science fiction tale?
    Actually, it’s about Peter and Lorna (Christopher Denim and Nicole Vicius), a couple of would-be filmmakers who are planning to expose Maggie as a fraud by infiltrating the group. But even as they (and we) try to figure out exactly what she’s up to, they come to the realization that, “We started out wanting to make a documentary about cults, and now we’re in one.” The members are all blindfolded at the end of each day, then returned home, only to brought back in the morning, when Maggie, who appears to be quite ill, will again hold court. But which Maggie will it be: the quiet, soft-spoken, caring one who arranges for group hugs, or the icy, manipulative harasser who had better not be challenged by any questions, lest she call in a couple of thugs to silence them? Will she be loving or despicable? What exactly is she preparing these “chosen ones” to do? And what the heck is that secret handshake all about? Other characters are introduced but are clouded in murkiness, all while Peter and Lorna get more involved than they ever intended, and a general creepiness works its way in before turning to a sense of real dread. Warning: There are both an icky “Survivor”-style eating scene and a self-induced vomiting scene.
    It all leads up to a conclusion that provides answers, but will make you question everything that’s come before it, and will then stay with you for a long, haunting while.
    SOUND OF MY VOICE (Rated R for language, sexual references, drug use) Written by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij; directed by Zal Batmanglij With Christopher Denim, Nicole Vicius, Brit Marling. 3 stars out of 4.

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