Martha Marcy May Marlene

It doesn’t get much better than discussing movies over a couple beers on a Saturday night, for me anyway. So I was thrilled when my sister Carla and brother-in-law Jack wanted to go to the movies last weekend. After much debate (OK, mainly on my part because there are so many good movies out right now) between Martha Marcy May Marlene and The Descendants, we decided there will be plenty of time to see the Oscar-buzzed George Clooney release.
Elizabeth Olsen (yes the sister of Full House twins Mary Kate and Ashley) stars as Martha, a young woman who just escaped from a cult and calls her sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) out of the blue for help. From there the story is told in a series of flashbacks between Martha’s life at the cult and staying at her sister’s house, ultimately to mirror her difficulty interpreting what’s reality and what isn’t.
Sometimes that style of a film can take away from the meaning, but here I feel it draws the audience in more and provides a platform to think through what Martha is experiencing and why.
The longer Martha stays at her sister’s house in a “real environment,” the more difficult it is for her to escape the memories of the cult and behaviors she developed there. And, she even fears the cult leaders have found her.
I remained interested in the plot throughout the film and, while the ending was a little anti-climatic, felt it stayed true to the story. It’s most fun (again, at least for me) if you see this movie in a group to discuss the little plot clues left by writer/director Sean Durkin and to figure out their place in the big picture of Martha Marcy May Marlene.
Olsen’s performance is all the rage right now and I’m sure it’s just a sign of what’s to come.
 Supporting cast John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Paulson, Hugh Dancy (as Lucy’s husband Adam) and the other young cult members deserve equal credit in telling this multi-faceted story.

From what I’ve read, this film has received favorable feedback from the critics so whatever it takes to get  more attention from audiences at the box office, I hope it happens.


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