Martha Marcy May Marlene 2011


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(41) IMDb 7/10

Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult.

Louisa Krause, Brady Corbet
Rental Formats:

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Product Details

  • Feature ages_15_and_over
Runtime 2 hours 0 minutes
Starring Louisa Krause, Brady Corbet, Hugh Dancy, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Elizabeth Olsen
Director T. Sean Durkin
Genres Drama, Thriller
Studio 20th Century Fox
Rental release 25 June 2012
Main languages English

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By haunted on 20 Mar 2012
Format: DVD
It's hard to know what to make of this movie but having watched it I find myself thinking about it a lot, even if I'm just trying to make sense of it!

Elizabeth Olsen plays a young woman who escapes from a cult and goes to live with her sister and her husband in their idyllic country holiday home. However it is far from living happily ever after as the women clearly have serious issues in their relationship. We also see flashbacks of what life was like for Martha in the cult, which was led by a Charles Manson type figure. These show some startling practices that were treated as normal in the cult.

Martha has clearly been deeply traumatised by what she has experienced and demonstrates this with growing paranoia and mistrust. Her sister and brother in law struggle to cope with increasingly strange behaviour. The constant switching between time periods confuses the viewer so that we start to share in Martha's confusion about her identity (demonstrated by the title of the movie).

The movie moves slowly towards its conclusion with an increasing sense of menace as we see what the cult was capable of but be warned, the ending has no easy answers.

A lot of people will find this movie deeply unsatisfying and that is quite understandable as the director seems to go out of his way, at times, to confuse the viewer. The ending, in particular, is ambiguous. However it is very well made and has as its core a great performance from Olsen as the beautiful but psychologically damaged title character. Some scenes and lines will certainly stay with you for a while after seeing the movie.

Whether that is a good thing or not will be for you to judge!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 April 2012
Format: DVD
The combination of names "Martha", "Marcy May" and "Marlene" reflects the "different faces" and mental confusion of Martha, a young woman who has drifted into life in a cultish commune in the remote Catskill Mountains. Will we ever learn how or why? The film begins with her escape from the community to take refuge with her conventionally middle-class, materialistic sister and her new husband.

The film is unusual in cutting continually back and forth between her life with her sister, in which Martha becomes increasingly more withdrawn and disturbed, and the two years spent in the commune, under the influence of the charismatic but at times menacing, possibly psychotic Patrick, who reminded me of tales of Charles Manson. You need to concentrate hard, not only because of the fragmented storyline, but also owing to the "naturalistic" filming technique, in which people often mumble as in real life, take part in normal, mundane activities and drift across the hand-held lens, perhaps appearing fleetingly at one edge of the screen. Occasional acts of violence erupt suddenly. At times, it has something of the "amateurish" visual quality of "The Blair Witch Project". Much is implied and little specifically stated.

Martha's problems of adapting to "normal life" are portrayed well, together with her relatives' predictable reaction, as when she bathes naked in the lake because that was what she did at the commune. The clash in their values is made clear. One's perception of the commune gradually darkens. At first, it just seems a throwback to pre-female equality days, as we see the women waiting to eat after the men, or the former selecting clothes off a communal rack.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By dipesh parmar on 16 Feb 2012
Format: DVD
Events are unclear from the start of Martha Martha Marcy May Marlene, the debut from director Sean Durkin. Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) escapes from a cult and returns to the only member of family she has left, her elder sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson).

Lucy has not seen Martha in around 2 years, she instantly knows something is wrong but knows she can't push it. Its obvious that Lucy knows her younger sister well, but we dont really know what their relationship is like together. Martha is clearly plagued by something or someone, and the story slowly starts to take shape through flashbacks of Martha's time in the cult as well as her time with Lucy and her husband Ted (Hugh Dancy). The more paranoid Martha becomes, the more we learn about her past ordeals. Excellent camerawork and editing helps to build a mirrored transitional structure, one half of Martha's immediate past, one half her immediate present. At times, Martha cant tell the difference between her old and new environment, and nor do we.

The chief protagonist in Martha's suffering is Patrick, played by John Hawkes. Similar to his Teardrop in `Winter's Bone', Patrick is even more chillingly charming and persuasive as the cult leader. One of the many creepy emotional techniques used by Patrick was to rename all the women in the cult, Marcy May in Martha's case, as a way of establishing psychological ownership. If ever the phrase `never trust the quiet ones' was meant for anyone, Patrick owns it hands down.

Everything is broken, Martha is broken. Martha may be safer in her sisters home but she doesn't feel it. Lucy's presence offer little reward for Martha, its just another form of confusion and fear. Martha is a complex and often annoying person, not an easy person to sympathise with.
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