Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Elizabeth OlsenSarah PaulsonJohn HawkesChristopher Abbott
Sean Durkin


Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) is a English movie. Sean Durkin has directed this movie. Elizabeth Olsen,Sarah Paulson,John Hawkes,Christopher Abbott are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2011. Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) is considered one of the best Drama,Mystery,Thriller movie in India and around the world.

Martha has run away from an abusive hippie-like cult where she was living as Marcy May for two years. She turns to her sister and brother-in-law who take her in and want to help her. The problem is Martha is having a hard time separating dreams from reality and when haunting memories of her past keep resurfacing, she may need more help than anyone is able to give her.


Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) Reviews

  • What's wrong with you?


    Greetings again from the darkness. This one has been on my radar since the Sundance Festival and all the raves about Elizabeth Olsen's performance. After attending a screening last evening, I find myself at a loss to adequately describe not just her stunning turn, but also this unusual film from writer/director Sean Durkin. On the surface, this sounds like just another movie peeking inside a creepy cult that brainwashes, and psychologically and physically abuses women, and is led by a charismatic (and creepy) religious style figure-head. There are many similarities to the Manson-family story of which much has been published, but Mr. Durkin takes the film in a much different and very creative direction by concentrating on what happens to Martha (Olsen) after she escapes the cult. In the Q&A, Durkin states he did much research and found the most fascinating story to be that of a cult escapee and what she went through during her first three weeks of freedom. Martha sneaks out early one morning and places a panic call to her older sister, whom she hasn't communicated with in two years. Settling in to the lake house with big sis and new brother-in-law, it becomes quite obvious that Martha doesn't know how to fit in society and has absolutely no interest in discussing her recent past. The sister is played very well by Sarah Paulson, and her husband is Hugh Dancy (so very good in Adam). This seemingly normal yuppie couple is trying to do right by Martha, but the fits of paranoia, outbursts of anger, and societal goofs are just too much for them. The genius of this film is in the story telling. The cinematic toggling between today and moments of time at the cult farm house leads the viewer right into the confused mind of Martha. We don't get much back story but it's obvious she was "ripe" for cult world when she was chosen. We see how Patrick, the quietly charismatic leader, sings her a song and steals her heart ... she wants so much to belong. We also see how she bonds with the other women at the farm house, and ends up in a situation that seems to snap her out just enough so she finds the strength to leave. The editing of scenes between these two worlds in outstanding and serve to keep the viewer glued to the screen. Last year I raved about an independent film called Winter's Bone. I chose it as one of the year's best and it ended with some industry award recognition. I am not willing to say this film is quite at that level, but I will say that the younger sister of the Olsen twins, Elizabeth, delivers an incredible first feature film performance and Sean Durkin deserves an audience for his first feature film as writer/director. Another bond between the two indies is that John Hawkes plays the cult leader Patrick, and Hawkes was a standout in Winter's Bone. There will undoubtedly be some debate about whether this is cutting edge independent filmmaking or just another snooty art-house mind-messer. All I can say is, I hope the film grabs enough audience for the debate to matter ... it deserves it.

  • Great idea in theory, not so great in practice.


    Girl escapes insane cult, attempts to get her life back to normal but keeps having flashbacks. Sounds reasonable in theory, but it just does not work in this film. Firstly, Elizabeth Olson acts her part pretty well, but it's not the hardest role to play - it basically consists of two mini-roles: 1) a normal 20-something girl, 2) A complete nutjob. Also, John Hawkes as the cult leader was played very well too. Sadly, no-one else acts particularly well, but a lot of that is because their parts are even worse. Her sister's part is basically to keep saying "Are you okay?" and "Why are you acting so crazy?", whereas her sister's husband has an even smaller repertoire - basically to continue going on about how he doesn't trust her, doesn't particularly like her, & thinks she needs sectioning. There are some truly ridiculous plot lines in this film. Firstly, she goes to great lengths to run away from the cult & hide in the forest to avoid the people chasing her, yet she decides to go to the local burger bar in the town just down the road. Firstly, where does she get the money, and secondly - when one of the guys from the cult finds her, why is he content to just leave her there? All very bizarre. There are so many jumps back and forth that it's hard to work out any kind of timeline as to what's going on. I get that she doesn't know if she's remembering or imagining, and that's good, but some sort of hint at a timeline would have been helpful. The film lacked any kind of sense that it was going anywhere after the first 15 minutes... she escapes and goes to live with her sister until her and her husband get bored when they take her to an asylum - except she appears to be being followed by the cult leader (or is this just her imagination?)... there's no ending, no progression, and just a feeling of being no wiser at the end of the film than at the beginning and there was no sense of caring for the characters. Was I sad that she'd joined the cult? No. Did I feel for her sister and her husband at having to put up with her? No. Was I scared for her when it seemed the cult leader may be chasing her? No.

  • This is an unfinished movie....


    *******SPOILER********* This was a film that started with excellent potential but cop-ed out at the end by having what people are defensively calling a "Non-Ending", which is utter bullshit. Basically, the movie is fairly well made, keeping the viewer entranced enough to want more but always questioning where things are going. The movie is purposely vague and in the end, when you expect to finally learn something substantial, the movie simply goes to black without any resolutions; literally no pay off and no closure. It left a very bad taste in my mouth. This is one of those lazy films that rather then entertain the audience with intrigue and then finally a climax, uses the viewers investment against them and pisses them off to get them to talk about the movie after it's over. Writing a movie with it's buzz in mind rather then it's context shows how much integrity the director has. For that reason, I say don't waste your time with this film because most regular film goers will feel betrayed and disappointed that the movie builds up to literally nothing. The main protagonist was pretty decent, I must admit, but when you go over the entirety of the movie, it becomes pretty clear that it accomplished very little, always teasing that it had more, but then coming up completely short. You will be disappointed, guaranteed.

  • Character development is not one of the film's strong points


    In first time director Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene, Martha (Elizabeth Olsen), a young woman in her early twenties joins a commune in a wooded area in upstate New York and endures psychological and sexual abuse at the hands of charismatic leader Patrick (John Hawkes). Patrick is a Charles Manson look-alike, who calls Martha "Marcy May" (all women must use the name "Marlene" when answering the phone). Nothing is said about the reason the commune exists or what its philosophy may be, other than Patrick's misinterpretation of the Buddhist word "Nirvana", and his remark that death is but a continuation, not an end. We are not told the circumstances that led Martha to join the group, but we do know that her parents are deceased, and that her relationship with her older sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) has been strained. In the commune, women's role is subservient. They work in the garden and prepare the food but are allowed to eat only after the men are finished. They have no beds but sleep on mattresses on the floor in the same room. Their initiation is to be given drugs and brought to Patrick's room for sex. Apparently, the house has many babies but it is unclear who takes care of them. Although it is possible, even probable, that fringe groups such as these do exist, and that the director may have personal knowledge of them, the members of the commune, as depicted in the film, seem little more than dehumanized caricatures of how some think "free-love hippies," should look and act. Without explanation, Martha suddenly leaves the commune and escapes into the surrounding woods, reaching town, though followed by Patrick's assistant Watts (Brady Corbet). Strangely, she goes to a restaurant in open view and, even more puzzling, Watts makes no attempt to restrain her and bring her back to the commune, odd behavior for a cult that doesn't hesitate to resort to murder. Somehow, Martha finds the inner resources to call her sister who brings her to their upscale lake house where she and her husband Ted (Hugh Dancy) live. It is clear almost immediately that Martha is having trouble reconnecting with society, but she is apparently too traumatized to communicate with Lucy or Ted about her present emotions, recent past, or plans for the future. The film continues on parallel tracks, flashing back to scenes from the commune and her life with her sister. The reason she left the commune becomes clearer when a flashback depicts a home invasion in which an innocent man is murdered. Martha's behavior at Lucy's home is unconventional, to say the least. She swims in the nude and inappropriately climbs into bed with Lucy and Ted when they are making love. She fears that she is being tracked down by cult members, but it is not clear whether this is real or imagined. Martha's trajectory continues downward, but no one seems to be able to get a handle on the situation. There is no intervention by the family when it is clearly required, no growth or adjustment on Martha's part, and not a single moment of sunlight lightening the film's dark mood. There is also no evidence that her sister or her husband have the empathy to create a space safe enough for her to communicate. In a home seemingly shut off from the outside world with no television or Internet to be seen, and no thought of contacting a counselor or psychologist, all Lucy and Ted can do is to shout repeatedly, "What's wrong with you?" "There's something wrong with her," until it becomes risible. Ultimately, Ted and Lucy decide to act but it may be too late. In an ambiguous ending, Martha's fate is left open for the viewer to interpret. Although the performances by Elizabeth Olsen and John Hawkes are outstanding, character development is not one of the film's strong points. Though it is billed as a psychological character study, Durkin does not provide enough insight into Martha's character, philosophy, or motives for us to identify with or care about what her fate may be. Martha Marcy May Marlene is a psychological thriller that is beautifully performed and, at times, gripping, but ultimately does not seem to have much point other than to tell us that destructive cults are …well…destructive, that they mess with your mind, and that failure to talk about them afterwards can mess up your head even worse.

  • Martha Marcy Maggie Mae


    Woman escapes from cult and fears reprisals from remaining cult members. There's your premise. So many endless, exciting possibilities for what a writer could do with such a premise, and yet what we are presented with is this: Martha Marcy May Marlene, which may as well have been called "Oh my god, you're not middle class anymore". First of all, this is not a psychological thriller as has been described. It's not even really a drama. It's 2 hours of watching three people (one of whom has recently been through the interesting experience of joining, participating in, and escaping from a cult, but you never really get enough info about that to satisfy your intrigue) eat, drink, sleep, cook, clean, and make small talk, interspersed with the main character - Martha - displaying signs of being "deeply disturbed". But, with the exception of kicking her brother-in-law halfway down a flight of stairs, most of this supposedly outrageous behaviour is actually quite subtle etiquette-based faux pas that do not exactly make for an engaging cinematic experience. As for the cult, you never find out what they're about, what they believe in, or what their purpose is. Occasionally, you'll get a little snippet of some half-baked philosophical belief, but not enough to build up any sort of idea of what they stand for. It's painfully obvious that the writer has put hardly any thought whatsoever into the background of the most important feature of the entire film. On the plus side, the acting is OK, and the scenes are well-filmed. Big deal, not much of a consolation when you've just wasted 2 hours watching the cinematic equivalent of waiting for a kettle to boil, only to discover that you've forgotten to switch the plug socket on. Oh and another thing I hated is that it's one of these films where you have to keep adjusting the volume because every so often there will be a scene where the actors mumble inaudibly for a little while, followed by a scene which is then way too loud in comparison. So also not a good movie if you like to watch films in bed and/or when someone is sleeping in the room next door.


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