Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) – So I’ve spent about a week trying to organize my thoughts about this movie. First and foremost, let me say that the biggest thing that works in the film is the central performance by Elizabeth Olsen. In fact all the acting is pretty good, but she stands out and all of the buzz about her is deserved. The film as a whole though I find somewhat lacking. I still come down on the “like it” side of the spectrum, but the film has some issues. The film is about a woman named Martha (Olsen) who is inducted into a cult by a man named Patrick (Academy Award nominee John Hawkes). He rechristens her Marcy May. The movie begins after her escape from the cult and living with her sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) and her husband Ted (Hugh Dancy). Martha shares virtually no information with them about where she’s been but they can tell by her behavior that something is off. The film builds a lot of tension showing Olsen’s disconnect with her surroundings. Her behavior escalates to the point where her family is not sure what to do about her. The film is about half composed of flashbacks to her life as Marcy May. The film unflinchingly looks at the indoctrination methods used by cults to keep people in line, and the abuses people suffer as part of them. The flashbacks build until they reveal what was so bad it eventually shocked “Marcy May” into leaving. In terms of plot that more or less sums up the movie. The film builds tension and it never really lets up. The movie ends ambiguously, which is the most fitting way to end it but it doesn’t feel particularly satisfying. There is a lot worth appreciating in Martha Marcy May Marlene, but it feels a lot like all wind-up and no pay-off.

One Response to “Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)”
  1. CMrok93 says:

    Nice review. This film is definitely different in the way it tells its story and the story it’s trying to tell, and while that’s very much something to applaud, it just didn’t come together for me as well as it could have. Olsen and Hawkes were very good but overall, the film just didn’t do much for me as it did for others. Check out my review when you get the chance.

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