Customer Reviews


 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No easy answers but a palpable feeling of menace
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...
Published on 20 Mar. 2012 by haunted

versus
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Culture Clash
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...
Published on 4 April 2012 by Antenna


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No easy answers but a palpable feeling of menace, 20 Mar. 2012
By 
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!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Know Who I Am!, 6 Jan. 2015
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Martha Marcy May Marlene [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
Young American 'indie’ producer/director/writer Sean Durkin made his big screen feature debut with this highly atmospheric, moody 2011 film (essentially) about a troubled girl’s search for identity (and reality) and whilst I did not find Martha Marcy May Marlene entirely successful, it still represents a highly promising start for Durkin. It’s not a film likely to appeal to everyone – slow-moving, blurring 'dreams’ and 'reality’ and cutting at will (arguably too often) between the two – but is nevertheless skilfully made, ambitious and well-acted, as well as making a number of wider points around social indoctrination and mental stability.

At the film’s centre is an outstandingly subtle and perceptive performance by newcomer Elizabeth Olsen as Martha, apparently just escaped from two years in a 'cult commune’ (during which she has been alternately named Marcy May and Marlene) and thrown back into the 'comfortable reality’ of domestic life with sister, Sarah Paulson’s Lucy and her (Brit) husband, Hugh Dancy’s Ted. At a time when 'youth coercion’ (religious, sexual, capitalist, etc) is particularly pertinent, Durkin does a good – largely subtle and dark – job of demonstrating how gullible adolescents could be attracted into a new 'family’ and (particularly during the film’s first hour or so) makes some powerful and perceptive points around identity, social norms, alienation, trust, community and sibling relationships. The seamless (and deliberately confusing) cutting between Martha’s two worlds is generally very effective, as is the depiction of her increasing paranoia and the growing tension between her and Lucy/Ted (as a result of Martha’s increasingly eccentric, and seemingly irresponsible, behaviour). Acting-wise, mention should also be made of John Hawkes’ subtly sinister turn as the commune’s god-like ('He only has boys’) leader, Patrick.

I found the first two-thirds or so of Durkin’s film extremely effective and (largely) convincing – the film’s move into (slightly) ‘faster-moving’ (thriller-like) territory towards its conclusion I found less so. Unlike many, I did, however, like Durkin’s continued blurring of reality through to its conclusion and would certainly mark the film-maker out as one to watch out for in the future.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Culture Clash, 4 April 2012
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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. Then there is the shocking scene of Martha's ritual initiation to sex with the leader, and so it all gradually gets worse as we come to understand the reasons for her acute distress, complicated by the fact that she is genuinely drawn to an unmaterialistic, commununal way of life.

Although the idea behind the film is interesting, I do not feel that it reaches its full potential. It is too slow-paced and confusing at times and although I do not expect everything to be neatly sewn up, the ending left me dissatisfied.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well acted, well directed film that offers few clues and even fewer answers., 16 Feb. 2012
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. But its too easy for us to say to her to grow up, get a job, have a relationship, be a good person, be all the things her sister is. No matter what she does she cannot escape herself. We know so little about her, she could have been traumatised all her life, who knows if her experience within the cult was even real?

Martha Martha Marcy May Marlene is not an easy film to watch, because Martha cant find the answers, and nobody can really help her. As good as some of the acting is and as well directed, Martha Martha Marcy May Marlene is perhaps just a little too disconnected to completely engage you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A film that asks lots of questions, answers none!, 15 Dec. 2014
By 
Adam N. (Norfolk, UK.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Martha Marcy May Marlene [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
I like Elizabeth Olsen and think she is an underrated actress. That was the main reason I watched this film.
The plot was intriguing and I really wanted to know more about the strange cult that she got away from. Unfortunately the film only scratches the surface. But it is really a tale of her trying to come to terms with what happened to her. I think if we got to know more about the cult and how she got there we could relate more, but we are not.
After investing the time to watch the film I was hoping for some kind of closure at the end, but alsas, we don't get it, the film ends on a cliff hanger so you have to make up your own minds.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Superb psychological drama, 21 July 2015
This review is from: Martha Marcy May Marlene [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
There should be no spoilers in this review.

The film is set during present day and during recent history, with the two time slots woven together very cleverly to reveal the story, and it is very much revealed, rather than told. There is much that we are not told but the film is all the better for it. There are no detailed back histories or explanations of characters, and one has, to some extent to make assumptions about things that happen as there are no (Hollywood style) signs that go up to tell the audience exactly what they are observing.

This is a superbly crafted film, one that is uncomfortable to watch at times between some of the content in the film (see synopsis) and the realism with which scenes are portrayed. It has a slow pace, which adds to the psychological tension and with acting that is never over-done, it has a very convincing realism about it. All who have been involved in this film appear to have done great work, but I would say that especially noteworthy was the acting of John Hawkes and of Elizabeth Olsen – especially so of Olsen

There is some beautiful scenery in the film (the Catskill Mountains) and also some beautiful music (I thought the song played out over the end credits was particularly good – Marlene by Jackson C Frank).

This is a film that most definitely won’t be to everyone’s taste but for anyone who does like it, it could well stay on your mind for some time.

On the DVD you get:

Martha Marcy May Marlene (1 hour 37 minutes)
Scenes
Set up English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1 as well as Italiano and Pyccknn
Optional Subtitles
Subtitles English for the hard of hearing
Subtitles in Dansk, Suomi, Italiano, Norsk, Pyccknn, Svenska
Extras: Mary Last Seen - Short film (13 minutes)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Worlds Apart, 19 Jan. 2015
By 
T. Edwards - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Martha Marcy May Marlene [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
First and foremost, Elizabeth Olsen is excellent in this film; she expertly gives a portrayal of a troubled, uncertain young woman, struggling to find her place in the world. She is utterly mesmerising to watch from start to finish and I'm sure that Mary-Kate and Ashley would be proud!
The film manages to successfully present certain themes, such as conformity, consumerism and family, among others. At the start of the film, the audience can definitely see the two worlds that Martha is stuck between and through Elizabeth Olsen's performance, we are able to see the struggles that she goes through in both "lives".
The locations used are very beautiful and awe-inspiring, but they are also given an air of menace and danger; we are given the impression that danger could be lurking somewhere in the woods and that although the outdoors can be wonderful, you may not be truly safe at all.

The film is definitely not perfect though; certain parts meander along at a leisurely pace and occasionally, there is more style than substance. I also felt that after a confident beginning, the narrative slackened and its initial message was lost. I also think that apart from certain major players, some characters were too two-dimensional and ultimately, we were left not knowing too much about the characters at all.
I was also uncertain about the ending; I would possibly have preferred a conclusion with more closure, although leaving it on somewhat of a cliff-hanger perhaps gives a more disturbing impression and leads the audience to believe that there is no happy ending after all.

In conclusion, this is a subtly disturbing film, which includes a wonderful performance from Elizabeth Olsen. It is not perfect, but the nightmarish atmosphere is apparent throughout and the menace stays with you long after the credits have rolled.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Got right under my skin, 1 Aug. 2014
By 
Mr. E. A. Dobson "dwardstings" (West Yorkshire,United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Martha Marcy May Marlene [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
I bought this dvd because Mark Kermode had recommended it but it took me months until I felt in the mood to watch it. As has been mentioned in other reviews, the film just ends leaving the viewer to their own conclusion. I don't think this is such a bad thing but can understand some people's disappointment. The subject matter will be disturbing to some viewers but I have to say compared with the endless remakes and sequels churned out by Hollywood, this is an original breath of fresh air.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, but left me disappointed., 29 Nov. 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was really looking forward to this film. I'm a huge fan of indie films, the reviews I read were excellent & I was interested to see what Lizzie Olsen could do. Sadly, I came away wanting more than I was given.
Olsen, incidentally was fantastic. She was spellbinding & you can see her character falling apart as the film goes on. Even though she has escaped from the cult, you can see she has been brainwashed by the things she says & does. It's quite disturbing watching Martha try to integrate herself back into "normal" society as she deals with increasing paranoia the cult are watching her. The other characters were a bit less fantastic.
I felt there was no real depth; I would have liked more background, how she came to enter the cult isn't fully explained & this bothered me all the way through. It's quite disturbing & hard to watch in places but worth watching for Olsen's performance, which I felt made this film.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A minimalist piece that works, 13 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Martha Marcy May Marlene [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
I read a few reviews on this film before I bought it that were critical of the plot and pace of the film. I decided to give it a go anyway and I'm really glad that I did. I found Martha Marcy May Marlene to be a very nice addition to my film collection and found that it was very successful in it's endeavour to be quite disturbing, unsettling and, at times, so creepy (mainly as a result of the cult leader). It may have helped that I watched this film when I was really in the mood for a quiet, thought-provoking film but the pacing was fine by me. I also actually liked the ambiguous cuts between past and present experiences as I think it gives the viewer a better experience of the damage that has been done to the lead character (played strongly by Elizabeth Olsen, who'd have thought it? An Olsen sister that can act and actually has some healthy meat on her).
So overall, if you want a pacey thriller then you might not like this one. I'm not the first to admit that this particular film isn't for everyone. If you are up for a psychological thriller that revolves heavily around sustaining an eerie mood through a fairly simple, but effective, plot, then definitely give Martha Marcy May Marlene a go.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Martha Marcy May Marlene [DVD] [2012]
Martha Marcy May Marlene [DVD] [2012] by T.Sean Durkin (DVD - 2013)
£5.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews