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Female Cult Leader Mesmerizes in Psychological Drama

Brit Marling portrays a cult leader in "Sound of my Voice." (Fox Searchlight)
Brit Marling portrays a cult leader in "Sound of my Voice." (Fox Searchlight)

Promising star Brit Marling draws notice in 'Sound of my Voice'

In new sci-fi psychological drama “Sound of my Voice,” a young female cult leader claims to be from the future.

A mysterious figure who lives in a Los Angeles basement, Maggie claims to have traveled back 30 years in time to prepare people for what's coming. Like any mesmerizing cult leader, she has followers who listen to her revelations of a bleak future of war, hunger and poverty.

But not all her followers are for real. Peter and Lorna infiltrate Maggie's group hoping to expose her as a fraud. Things don't go as planned because, although Peter mistrusts Maggie, he's also taken with her.

Equally as intriguing as the cult leader she portrays, is the film’s promising actress. Brit Marling, who portrays Maggie, co-wrote the script with director and producer, Zal Batmanglij. The filmmakers faced challenges as newcomers in tough economic times.

"It's hard enough to get someone to invest in an unknown director and an untested actress, let alone in 2009," Batmanglij says. "So we really had to come up with something clever on our own. So we shot the movie on an SLR which is a consumer camera. Then we got a lot of people to come and donate their time for free."

Marling's first film, "Another Earth," released last year, established her as an intuitive, intelligent actress and writer.

"As an actor, part of what makes the job so intoxicating is the idea that you don't have to spend your entire life stuck in your own point of view," she says.

In four years, she has acted in four films, co-scripting three of them.

"We started writing these films, making these films in a vacuum," Marling says. "I don't think we ever imagined they would enter the world in the way that they have."

In "Sound of my Voice," Marling's Maggie allows us to see her the way we want. She appears fragile and strong at the same time. She could be a villain or a saint.

As for the plot, its finale is open-ended, prompting the audience to ponder the possibilities.