|'The end which Sound Of My Voice pulls out feels like a latter day M. Night Shyamalan; all false profundity and empty revelation.'|
The director of Another Earth, Mike Cahill, did not get enough credit for his creation, so says the film-making evidence on show in Sound Of My Voice. The talent who unites the two films, Brit Marling, again co-writes, produces and stars in this, her third feature, but gone is Cahill from her creative sphere, replaced instead by Zal Batmanglij, who mangles the material.
That Marling is a Hollywood uber-prospect, a young talent with more working for her than merely the ability to front a franchise, remains not in question but Sound Of My Voice shows that, for her to fly, there needs to be a creative spirit as strong as hers in control of the whole thing. That Sound Of My Voice wants to be profound, meaningful and haunting isn't in doubt either. That it fails on all of those counts is a charge to be laid at the feet of Batmanglij.
Where Cahill took his time and found quiet complication and dubious morals in his Marling collaboration, Batmanglij takes his time and finds nothing much in particular, save one scene of notable tension and a whole heap of boredom. The end which Sound Of My Voice pulls out feels like a latter day M. Night Shyamalan; all false profundity and empty revelation. It speaks to the failings of the rest of the film. We never really care about Marling's cult leader Maggie, nor the two faintly horrible people pursuing her (Christopher Denham and Nicole Vicius), nor her anonymous group of white-clad devotees. Peter (Denham) keeps on telling us that Maggie is dangerous but we never see it, bespectacled cult elder Klaus (Richard Wharton) keeps on telling us that she is a saviour but we never see that either.
That leaves you with a horrible creeping feeling, confirmed by the finale, that Sound Of My Voice is an empty vessel where it should be all academic engagement and loose Sci-Fi/current affairs crossover. The prevailing problem is that Another Earth did the Sci-Fi infinitely better with pretty much the same style and one of the same talents and Hollywood's recent interest in cults has given us, amongst others, Martha Marcy May Marlene, which does pretty much everything better than this, including the dissection of the weird sect and what it means to be a part of it.
In particular, the joining of the group by Peter and Lorna (Vicius) is an element explored spectacularly without subtlety by Batmanglij. We see the clear dual-meanings of the two claiming they are joining for research only, whilst they and the director consistently point out that it is only the broken who require the solace of such gatherings. We don't need the broken-home issues Batmanglij then starts to ram down our throats as he attempts to make his point.
That, and other elements (most notably the non-existent pacing), are close to inept, something which Another Earth never was. All hail Mike Cahill.