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Monday, November 7, 2011

Martha Marcy May Marlene: Movie Review


Martha Marcy May Marlene.


Cast:  Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes

Writer and Director: Sean Durkin



** and 1/2 *'s out of four.


                                        

I've read that there are many cults out there in the U.S.  Not too sure at exactly how many there are or if what I read was extremely accurate, but I do know that they exist.  Sean Durkin's impressive feature length debut shows us inside the mind of one of these people who were brain washed into joining a cult.


 Marcy May( Elizabeth Olsen ) is a women who is shown living in such a cult.  She and the other women prepare the food, but will not be able to eat until all the men have finished.   The roles of the sexes go back to pioneer days when men hunted and women took care of the gardening and housework( ie. The Golden Years. ..just kidding) .  One day Marcy May decides to leave.  There is no explanation as of why she decides this, nor is there any when she is met by another cultist who doesn't bring her back to the farm.   She ends up contacting her estranged sister Lucy(Sarah Paulson) who invites her to come live with her and her husband Ted( Hugh Dancy).   Marcy May who is  now called Martha by Lucy is having a hard time establishing what is memories of the past and what is in the present.  She feels like she is being watched and that the cult leader Patrick(John Hawkes) will come looking for her.


(Theatrical Trailer: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures)


The movie brilliantly blends both Martha's past, present and dreams so fluently that you get the sense of confusion the main character is feeling.  Nothing is really explained as to why Martha decides to let herself be talked into joining this cult, but than again, she doesn't know either so it's difficult to understand any real reason why.   All she has is just fragmented memories of her time there and that's all we get to see.  I understand and can appreciate some movies being left open ended, but this was over even before the third act started.  The movie established that Martha as the Hero and that Patrick is the villain, but the movie ends before any confrontation is shown.



All of the actors do top notch work and I'm really impressed at Elizabeth Olsen work in this very complex and difficult role.    Her performance kept me interested in this story, while Sarah Paulson's performance as the sister made me a bit more sympathetic towards her.  She alone represents how the audience feels about this girl. You like her, but are unsure of what can be done to help.  It's clear that Martha has gone through some major traumatic events with this cult, but none of them are ever resolved. I will be watching this again because I think I missed something important at the end when i went to turn my phone off.  This is a well done thriller with great visuals and intense acting.  I would recommend this movie on those two things alone.



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