In the first scene of Sound of My Voice—a sci-fi drama from first-time director Zal Batmanglij—a couple follows directions into the garage of a suburban house. They are met by a stranger who instructs them to wash up, thoroughly, and put on hospital gowns. The stranger then handcuffs and blindfolds them, and leads them into a van.
Their restraints are removed once inside another location, where they are led into a basement and, after a series of elaborate handshakes, are welcomed into the group and introduced to Maggie.
Barefoot and veiled, Maggie enters the room with an oxygen tank in tow. She sits cross-legged on the floor, lifts her veil and proceeds to tell the story of how she came to be. The story concludes with her showing the group her tattoo of a delicate anchor and the number 54. “See, I come from 54,” she says. “2054. Your future.”
This all takes place within the first 12 minutes of the film—viewable here—and the rest of the film is equally engaging. It is later divulged that the couple, Peter and Lorna, are actually documentarians who want to make a film on cults and expose Maggie as a fraud. But Peter and Lorna get in over their heads, and begin to question their own beliefs—and each other.
Though it was shot on a micro budget, Sound of My Voice is impactful, raising questions about the power of belief, the search for truth and how the two can be easily confused. Brit Marling is particularly enchanting in her role as Maggie, disorienting and disarming cult members—and moviegoers—with her celestial beauty and poignant performance.
Each scene in film builds on the last, and amounts to a wonderfully complex narrative that is as fantastic as it is real.
Sound of My Voice is in theaters April 27th