The morning after isn’t always THIS awkward.

Theatrical Release Date: 04/27/2012
Director: Zal Batmanglij
Cast: Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, Brit Marling, Davenia McFadden, Kandice Stroh, Richard Wharton, Christy Meyers, Alvin Lam, Constance Wu
Rated: R for language including some sexual references, and brief drug use.
Runtime: 1 hour, 25 minutes


We’re going to play a game …

It’s a little hard what one can say about “Sound of My Voice”. From the trailer and the available first 12 minutes one can find online, it’s obvious this has something to do with a cult and possibly time travel. Beyond that, mentioning any specific plot points would be a disservice to anyone interested in seeing the film.

Co-written by director Zal Batmanlij and actress Brit Marling, the story is a bit like a puzzle. Broken into numbered sections presented in order, each segment is a piece of the whole, and as the audience is given more information it sometimes makes things clearer but it can also open up a whole new rabbit hole to jump into.

The acting is all executed decently, with Marling once again exhibiting a remarkable screen presence; she won the 2011 Best Actress award from myself and the rest of the San Diego Film Critics Society for “Another Earth” which she also co-wrote. Although she plays things here at such an even keel, it’s readily apparent that there’s so much emotion and thought bubbling just beneath that calm facade. It’s perhaps a less sympathetic character than that of Rhoda from “Another Earth” (though the argument could be made), but Marling pulls off a very tricky balancing act and only bolsters my hope audiences will see a lot more from her in the future; either in front of, or behind the camera.

What really sells the movie though is its originality and ability to elicit discussion. People who need everything spoon-fed and aren’t willing to do a little work to connect the dots need not apply. Instead, if you enjoy a healthy and constructive dissection of the work following the end credits, by all means go out and support this film. This is exactly the kind of project that breaks up the endless formula-driven fare crammed down our eyeholes each week.

Now, there are a few problems; choosing when and how to utilize close-ups, camera-work which felt a little too shaky at times even allowing for the low-budget sensibilities, and a really, really odd choice of music to end the movie and roll into the credits with (for the most part, the music/score works well). Also, while it can be fun to assemble the bits of information and extrapolate a more complete understanding of the world being presented, there’s a certain sense that the screenwriters were trying a little too hard to keep people off-balance; that it might be a shade too clever.

In the end, trying to decide where to come down on the film is anything but easy. I think it will require at least another viewing to make sure the pictures created in my mind are the ones I want to stick with in a more lasting sense. However, this is an effort I’ll gladly put in sometime down the line and while general audiences may find “Sound of My Voice” a little too out of reach considering an increasingly apparent desire to only show up for really ‘safe’ movies, this is easily going to remain one of 2012′s more thought-provoking efforts and it gets a 4 out of 5. It’s so nice to see a fresh approach to the scene and Marling continues to prove that actors can do more than take the roles that are out there and cash in a check – they can also create for themselves and help diversify the ever-homogenizing marketplace in the process.

4 out of 5