Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)
I watched Martha Marcy May Marlene about a month ago and ever since then I can’t stop thinking about it. At first I just thought it was that feeling some people get after watching a movie, that feeling that this is one of the best things they ever watched. But as soon as they re-watch it just turns out to be average. Well on my second viewer I can honestly say that this movie has grown even more fantastic.
The plot of Martha Marcy May Marlene is a simple one but one that gets under your skin. Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) hasn’t seen her family, mainly her sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) for two years. She has been living in the Catskill Mountains with a cult lead by Patrick (John Hawkes). One day she calls her sister out of the blue and asked to be picked up. It doesn’t take long for Lucy and her husband Ted (Hugh Dancyto) to realize that that something’s wrong and Martha no longer fits in with the rest of society.
The film is basically a metaphor for belonging as Martha ventures into the unknown to find some kind of joy but ultimately comes out more messed up then when she went in. Martha is in between the cult that she left and her sister (society), she too sane to be with the cult and to insane to be with her sister. Sean Durkin has crafted a magnificent film that examines the human condition. The fact that this is the first film that Durkin has written and directed is a big testament to his skills as a filmmaker.
The other newcomer in this film is Elizabeth Olsen who absolute grabs the attention of the viewers every frame of the way. The emotion that she emits from her facial expression is enough to tell her story. The other stand out actor in the film is the always great John Hawkes as the enigmatic leader of the cult. The demeanor that he puts on makes his character stand out and seem very realistic. The one thing I always liked about Hawkes performances is the simple fact that he looks the same in almost everything he is in but he’s always play very different characters. The rest of the cast does a great job as well and everyone seems to fit their roles perfectly.
The other pacing of the film and the nonlinear storyline are the other factors that make this movie so great. The film never seems to drag or to skip a step as it very carefully crates an atmosphere that fit the film perfectly. The nonlinear story makes it easier fir the viewer to understand some of Martha’s actions. For example, early in the movie Martha goes for a swim in the lake. She ends up taking all her clothing of before going in and gets screamed at by her sister as there are young kids nearby. Later on it is shown that this was the normal thing to do when she was with cult.
Overall the film stands as a great display of one not fitting in and wanting to. It’s a fantastic film that has many great moments that will leave you thing long after the movie has stopped playing. The film does have its dark corners as the flash back scenes can be disturbing but never the less interesting. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who likes a film that leaves them thinking or just anyone who likes a dark drama, 4 out of 5.