Martha Marcy May Marlene
Directed by: Sean Durkin
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson
Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Due Out: February 21, 2012
PLOT: A young woman (Olsen) flees a cult and goes to live with her sister (Paulson), but has a hard time reverting to her old life.
WHO’S IT FOR? Fans of indie cinema who are patient.
Durkin made a good choice when he cast Olsen for the lead in his feature debut. The character of Martha/Marcy isn’t terribly fleshed out, but you almost forget it watching her play the part. Olsen is playing two roles, Martha who returns to her sister and Marcy, the girl she was in the cult. I identified with her sister, Lucy. Martha makes no sense, she goes skinny dipping in a public lake during the day and crawls in the bed with her sister while she’s having sex with her husband. The problem is her behavior is so bizarre, it really makes no sense. I feel like the director had more of the backstory in his mind, but I don’t see it. She’s comfortable with group sex, but she was in a position of indoctrinating the new girls in the cult, so why just crawl into her bed? She must know that’s weird behavior. In fact, it all makes a lot more sense when the actors describe the film after the fact in “The Story” Blu-ray feature. This isn’t to say that the film’s bad or that I disliked it. I was intrigued and found it interesting. In the end, we’re left hanging, and there just wasn’t enough story to make the dangling plot work. I was disappointed. I don’t need a happy ending, I don’t need complete closure, but I need to know where the film is heading. This wasn’t clear, and I felt a little insulted. I’ll be interested to see Durkin’s future projects, and if he can paint a fuller picture next time.
MOVIE SCORE: 6/10
Mary Last Seen Short Film
The Psyche of a Cult
Spotlight on Elizabeth Olsen
The Making of Martha Marcy May Marlene
A Conversation with Filmmakers
“Marcy’s Song” Music Video by John Hawkes