Monday, July 30, 2012

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Written and directed by Sean Durkin

Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy, Brady Corbet, Julia Garner, Maria Dizzia, Louisa Krause and John Hawkes

I heard nothing but great things about Sean Durkin's full-length feature film debut. He won the directing award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. People were mainly talking about Elizabeth Olsen breakthrough performance. This film was recommended by a fellow film fanatic, Tassoula from the Cinebanter podcast that I listened to where put this as her number one film from last year. I have to say thanks for the recommendation, T.

An emotionally damaged young woman named Martha (Olsen) escapes from a hippie cult commune in the middle of the Catskills. She is scared, dirty, hungry and lonely. The first person that she calls is her big sister, Lucy (Paulson). Lucy brings Martha to her vacation home in Connecticut where she shares with her new husband, Ted (Dancy). Martha has been gone for two years and Lucy wants to know where she has been. Martha wants to tell Lucy about her whereabouts, but she has been brainwashed by the leader of the group, Patrick (Hawkes). Martha has a problem from differentiating from what is real and what is in her mind.

This movie hooked me from the first frame based solely on Elizabeth Olsen's performance. She was transcendent. I could see the pain in her eyes, face and mannerisms. I felt her pain and she struggles to bring back some normalcy in her life. She finds it very difficult to adjust. It's heartbreaking to watch. I cannot stress how good Elizabeth was in this movie. I was surprised that she did not get an Oscar nomination for her role. It is a crime.

I thought that the movie was going to go one way, but it didn't. I love that it was not predicable. I enjoyed the dynamic between Lucy and Martha. Lucy is trying to get into Martha's odd motivations and behavior. Martha's unpredictable behavior causes strain in Lucy and Ted's relationship.

I have to say one final thing to say about John Hawkes. I thought he was very good here, but I thought that he character reminded a lot of his character in Winter's Bone. A grimy, scruffy hillbilly who doesn't respect women that much. I hope that he doesn't get typecast in those roles in the future.

My Rating


  1. Sounds interesting. I'm in.

    Haven't seen anything starring the younger Olsen, but it seems as if she is the real deal. Might have to do a double feature.

    1. She hasn't made that many movies, but she is someone to watch in the future.

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  3. This has been on my radar for quite a while but I've yet to see it. You've certainly added to my insatiable appetite to see the film.