22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
No easy answers but a palpable feeling of menace,
This review is from: Martha Marcy May Marlene [DVD]  (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!