Sound Of My Voice is a Psychological Thriller directed by Zal Batmanglij. The super-talented Brit Marling has co-written the film along with Zal. Her other films include Another Earth and I, Origins. Sound Of My Voice is centred on a couple trying to infiltrate and expose a cult whose leader claims to be a time traveller from the year 2054 who has come to save the people she loves. The film purposely gives no closure to the aspects of Maggie, Abigail or Carol Briggs. So this article is going to have a ton of speculation based on the contents of the film. Please feel free to state your theories in the comments section below. This is Barry, welcome to my site, and here is the plot analysis and the ending of the 2011 film Sound Of My Voice explained, spoilers ahead.
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Where To Watch?
To find where to stream any movie or series based on your country, use This Is Barry’s Where To Watch.
Oh, and if this article doesn’t answer all of your questions, drop me a comment or an FB chat message, and I’ll get you the answer. You can find other film explanations using the search option on top of the site.
Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:
Is Maggie lying about Time Travel in Sound Of My Voice?
Well, this is the burning question that crosses our mind continuously as watch the film, isn’t it? And there really can be two answers to this, and sadly writer, Brit Marling, and director, Zal Batmanglij, have left this open-ended intentionally. Their initial plan was to make a trilogy and give out a lot more answers, but as we all know, trilogies only raise more questions than give answers. So let us, for a moment, consider that Maggie is not a time traveller and see what we’re left with.
Maggie is actually Shelly Whipple who is wanted for in Sacramento for armed robbery and in Fresno for arson. She’s now in hiding and tricking a group of people into believing that she’s from the year 2054. Instead of just laying low, Maggie is trying to brainwash a bunch of people so that they can be recruited into her syndicate. But this leaves us to question the premise she’s building the cult on. Maggie might do far better with her cult recruitment if she lured people based on a more relatable sentiment. One would expect Maggie to have a more airtight story about the future, including details of the time travel. Someone as smart as Maggie is unlikely to sing a 90’s Cranberries song when asked, she would have said something to the extent of “We don’t have any music in the future”. The audience is in the same shoes as that of the cult members, and the song choice makes you wonder if Maggie is bullshitting. But in that scene, it appears that she honestly didn’t know the origins of that song.
Abigail is a girl who doesn’t fit into Maggie’s plans for the cult. This is the first child that she’s interested in. There is a popular theory that Maggie is Abigail’s mother and not the other way around. It is Maggie who thought her the secret handshake. The speculation doesn’t have weight because Abigail has no recollection of who Maggie is. If she was old enough to learn the secret handshake, she would remember her own mother. The woman from the justice department seems very paranoid about the room she’s staying in. That doesn’t fall in line with her otherwise alleged job description. There is undoubtedly more to her than meets the eye.
In all, if Maggie were lying, it makes her a terrible liar, a person with a rather silly plan, and the whole premise of the film becomes a little dull. Therefore …
Sound Of My Voice: Plot Explained: Maggie Is Really A Time Traveller
I’m going to focus on the time traveller aspect to address the various events in the film and see how they tie back up. Why? Well, I’m a sucker for time-travel films, and this element makes Sound Of My Voice more exciting.
The story follows Peter, a teacher, and his partner, Lorna, who are looking to expose a cult which is led by a woman, Maggie, claiming to be from the future. Maggie resides in the basement of a house and seems to need oxygen support and blood transfusions to stay healthy. She attributes this to time travel and its side effects. Peter and Lorna infiltrate the cult and Peter wants to try and record the events in the basement where they hold their meetings. He swallows a transmitter to ensure he can smuggle it in.
Peter’s past and the Apple vomiting scene
Peter’s mom died of cancer on his 13th birthday. After this, he moved in with his grandparents. It appears he was sexually abused as a boy by his own grandfather. While his grandmother did her best to protect him, many a time he was caught alone after school. Peter has not shared this with anyone. In one of the sessions, Maggie offers the members a peculiar apple and asks them to puke it out. She refers to this as letting go of the past and fears associated with it. Peter refuses as the transmitter is in his stomach.
Maggie knows Peters history well enough. Recall a flash-back where we see Peter’s past narrated by a young girl. My theory is that this is Maggie’s voice when she was younger, in the future, learning about Peter. In addition to this, Maggie seems to possess the power of persuasion as stated in this interview. Perhaps something she inherited from her mother, Abigail. Maggie is able to trigger an intense emotional reaction in Peter, and he finally vomits. While he secretively removes the transmitter, I think Maggie already knew about it. Which is also why she picked the apple activity for that day.
Who is Abigail, and what is wrong with her?
Abigail is claimed by Maggie to be her mother. Abigail seems to live with her father and seems to have some sort of precognitive capabilities. She always wears her cap, which indicates that she wants to stay cut-off from any external stimuli. Abigail incessantly builds elaborate towers with her building blocks which appear to be blueprints of a post-apocalyptic world. She also gets into trouble for writing “TERRORIST” on another student’s bag. Considering that Abigail is anti-social and aloof, it seems odd that she’d go out of her way to pick a fight with another student in this manner. What I think is Abigail foresaw the student committing an act of terror many years into the future. Her premonitions could be the external stimuli I mentioned earlier.
Why does Abigail’s father inject something into her feet?
It appears that Abigail’s father has had to deal with the manifestations of her abilities. She doesn’t seem to tire or call it in for the day. He prefers to keep her tranquil by secretly injecting her with some sort of a sedative. Why do I say secretly? Well, injections between the toes are known to be quite painful, but the reason it is done is so that the needle mark is concealed easily. I don’t think Abigail’s father was sexually abusing her as he stays beside her while he does work on his laptop till she falls asleep. This sedative can possibly explain why Abigail tends to fall asleep at odd places and times, and it is required to keep her in check.
Bring me Abigail!
Just as Peter is easing into the cult, he’s put in a spot when Maggie demands that he must bring her Abigail who is a student in his class. Refusing this means exiting the cult. I believe Maggie is using Peter’s to facilitate the followers witnessing Maggie’s and Abigail’s meeting. This girl is her mother and proving this would form substantial evidence for Peter and all the other cult members that Maggie is indeed from the future. Peter agrees.
Who is the Carol Briggs what is she doing in the hotel room?
Carol Briggs claims to be from the justice department and has been assigned Maggie’s case. Carol has a picture of Maggie from her younger days. I believe this photo is not from the past, but from the future. It’s a picture of Maggie before she travelled back in time. It appears that years after that photo was taken Maggie committed armed robbery and arson in the future. To me, that photograph was of a young woman who was naive and carefree and not yet capable of crime. Technically, Carol has been asked to bring in someone who is not yet born in her time. The information she has with her is quite detailed. Carol knows that Lorna and Peter are trying to expose the cult centred around Maggie even though they’ve been doing this in utmost secrecy. Carol also knows that Peter and Lorna have had a disagreement. She chooses to get in touch with Lorna at that exact moment and convinces her. Carol is possibly a time traveller too or works for an agency that works across time which might explain how she strikes at the right time. Carol trusts no one and thoroughly sweeps the hotel room to ensure it is not bugged. So this gives the feeling that she’s working for someone she doesn’t fully trust.
Sound Of My Voice: The Terminator Connection
Director, Zal Batmanglij states his love for the Terminator movies in this interview. Actor, Christopher Denham, also quotes a connection to The Terminator in this interview of his. What is the relevance of The Terminator you ask? Well, in that film, there is a war in the future, and a human needs to be sent back to save Sarah Connor, who will mother the resistance leader. The machines send back a Terminator to ensure Sarah Connor is dead before she can conceive. Both the machines and John Connor end up creating themselves because of their use of time-travel. Based on what Maggie has to say, the future in Sound Of My Voice may not feature machines based on AI, but there is a civil war that brings a lot of agony. The Terminator analogy suggests that Maggie has come to start the group that fights for one side of that civil war. She has come to recruit (and save) those people who she loves in the future.
Why has Maggie travelled back in time?
Maggie is lying about having had amnesia on arrival and that Klaus found her and saved her. We don’t know how but Klaus knew who to look for and the tattoo was the verification he needed to pick up Maggie. Just like Carol, Klaus could have been given information about Maggie and how to find her. While Maggie claims to not remember why she travelled back in time, I’m going to theorize that she was sent back to start the cult and recruit a crucial future member, Peter. The speculation is quite the leap, right? Hang on. I want to go back to a bunch of dialogues in the film that support the theory, so bear with me.
First, this conversation Peter and Maggie have after she kicks Lam out when he asks for proof that she’s from the future:
Peter: Why’d you kick Lam out?
Maggie: Because I knew Christine growing up. But I never saw Lam. I don’t think he belonged with us.
Peter: Are Lorna and I there?
Maggie: That’s for you to decide.
Maggie indicates that Peter will need to make a choice at some point in the future. She doesn’t give Peter a black-and-white answer because he needs to go through the journey of faith. The other statement that Maggie makes to the cult members at a later point is this:
Very soon this group is gonna begin its journey. I won’t be with you. It’s just change. And you guys are gonna be fine. And if you allow yourself to get quiet now and again to really be still you will hear the sound of my voice.
Maggie knows that she’s only responsible for bringing the group together, but not lead them through the journey. The ending of the movie Sound Of My Voice leaves the otherwise cynical Peter looking at Maggie and the little girl, Abigail, in disbelief as they share the secret cult handshake. Peter realizes that Maggie was telling the truth all along, and Abigail is actually her mother. That handshake appeared childish right from the get-go, now we know why. When Abigail asks who Maggie was, Peter responds saying:
I don’t know
Peter has gone from being sure that Maggie is a faker to not knowing what to believe anymore. This is his journey of faith. The film ends with the lines Maggie once told Peter:
Peter, it’s not my choice. It’s yours.
This line, when stated earlier by Maggie, was preceded by:
You were powerless then. But you’re not anymore.
Okay enough of these dialogues, time to make my point…
Sound Of My Voice: Final Thoughts On Maggie And The Ending
Maggie seems to be aware that she’s not going to be with the cult for much longer; she states it. This is probably because in the future her people have talked about their first leader exiting after bringing in Peter and Lorna. What she apparently doesn’t know is that the authorities would take her away and that Peter (and Lorna) would be the ones responsible for her capture. You can see the surprise and anger on her face when she realizes what Peter has done. But it’s this incident that has made Peter a believer. I’d reckon that Peter eventually joins the cult and becomes one of its critical members. He’s not powerless anymore. As Maggie mentions, Peter possibly decides to convince Lorna too.
The final piece of the puzzle is the narration done by a young girl introducing both Peter and Lorna and their pasts. My hypothesis is that this is a young Maggie’s voice, in the future, learning about two critical members of the cult. This knowledge about Peter’s past is why Maggie is able to emotionally manipulate him during the Apple session. So, in summary, Maggie is sent back in time to bootstrap the syndicate she is part of. Her operations purposefully draw the attention of Peter and Lorna who are looking to track down and expose cults. Maggie asks Peter to get her Abigail as it would prove to him she’s telling the truth. Ultimately Abigail’s meeting leads to Maggie’s capture and Peter’s belief. Peter and Lorna join the cult, and history repeats itself as they prepare for the civil war.
Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
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