It's tough, and probably unfair, when your first exposure to an actor becomes ruinous for all that comes later, but sometimes it just happens and there's no going back. Take for instance the case of the actress Brit Marling. She got a lot of good attention for the 2011 sci-fi mood-piece Another Earth, but that was a film I really just had no patience for, and I got so sick of watching her stare at dust motes therein that apparently now the very sight of her begets an instantaneous groan.
I didn't realize I'd have that reaction until I did, watching the 2011 sci-fi mood piece (sensing a theme) Sound of My Voice this past weekend. Somehow I'd avoided reading too much about this movie, which I've been trying to be better about doing when I hear vague things about something small like this being good - who knows how long it'll take for me to get the chance to see it, after all? Best to avoid everything so I can and save myself some surprises.
Point being I had no idea Brit was even in this movie, until there she was, and that involuntary groan had rolled out of me. Which is probably unfair. (The funny part is I was watching this in one room by myself and halfway through it my boyfriend came in and saw her on the screen and had the exact same groaning reaction. We are compatible!) Especially since, I can say now, she's actually much less irritating in Sound of My Voice than I found her in Another Earth. Or maybe it's that the film uses her annoying-ness to better effect? Yeah, that one. My distrust... or really, let's call it distaste... for her worked pretty well in complicating my reaction to her character and the surrounding goings-on of the plot.
Perhaps too much? By the film's end the vagueness of where I was supposed to stand towards her character does tip its hat towards the opposite reaction I was having, to my chagrin. It reminds me of Mike White's Year of the Dog in that way - I've always read the ending of that film as tragic, but I know people who read Peggy's leap off the deep end into animal activism as an upbeat affirmation, as well. I think White's film is better at having it both ways - indeed I think White's film is more purposeful about it, and it might just be my engrained negativity towards Marling that's ultimately coloring my perception of the movie, and making it seem more complicated than it might otherwise be. Who knows? Cults are bad, the end!