Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene

Last night I went to a screening for Shame and even though I was 45 minutes early, the screening was obviously way-overbooked and I didn’t get a seat. But since I was there, and I hadn’t yet seen Martha Marcy May Marlene, I thought why not, I’ve already paid for parking. On a side note, this was the first time I watched a movie in the theatre, by myself. Yup, that’s right, I walked right up to the ticket-selling-man, and sheepishly requested, “one for Martha Marcy May Marlene, please”. And his response was, “WOW, the whole thing?”, which left me a bit confused, wondering if that was some sort of remark at my being at a movie all by my lonesome. But apparently what he meant was, ‘no one who’s bought a ticket for this has said the whole name of the film’. It's true - the title is quite a mouthful, and then some.

Martha Marcy May Marlene is a gut-wrenching film about a cult, something that we, as humans seem to be fascinated with. We first meet a twenty-something Martha/Marcy Mae/Marlene (who we all know as the other Olsen sister, Elizabeth Olsen) as she’s making her escape from the cult she has been living at, a place where the men eat first and the ragged women watch on in a sort-of trance, silently awaiting their turn. What we see doesn’t seem blatantly wrong or suspect, but feels weird, like things aren’t as they should be. Martha finds refuge at the home of her sister and her husband and the story cuts back and forth between present and past, as Martha goes in and out her depressive and damaged state, reliving the events of her ‘programming’, the rape she was subjected to, and her terrifying, but captivating ‘leader’ (John Hawkes).

The film was dark, beautifully shot and haunting, with Elizabeth Olsen convincingly and beautifully portraying a damaged and fragile woman coping with a trauma that she may never completely heal from.

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