maandag 4 april 2016

100 Movie Challenge 2016 - # 41: Martha Marcy May Marlene

Director: Sean Durkin
Genre: Drama/ Thriller
Runtime: 102 minutes
Year: 2011
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy, John Hawkes, Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbet

Description: Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman (Elizabeth Olsen) struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult.

Review: Martha is her real name. The members of the commune she joined call her Marcy May. When women answer the phone they always introduce themselves as Marlene. Martha flees the commune at the start of the film. Completely confused she calls her older sister Lucy. Together with her new husband she has temporarely moved into a summerhouse by a lake. The two sisters haven’t had contact for a couple of years. Lucy doesn’t know what Martha went through.
The cult was led by the charismatic Patrick, who lures people into his commune by telling them stories about complete sacrifice and solidarity. Fear is the most purest emotion, because it makes you aware of yourself. Every new girl has a ‘special night’ with the leader, which really means they loose their virginity and are basically raped by Patrick. Why Martha joins them is still the question. Why she leaves, we see through flashbacks. Sister Lucy doesn’t find out why Martha’s behavior is so strange an why she gets panic attacks. Ted, Lucy’s husband, wants less and less to do with Martha because of her behavior.
“Martha Marcy May Marlene” is the debut of director Sean Durkin. It tells two parallel episodes of the life of the troubled title character. Her reunion with her family and the experiences in the cult. This way of storytelling is very effective in this film. The story unfolds and you eventually understand why Martha is the way she is.
Elizabeth Olsen is fantastic as Martha. Her silence, her introvercy. But then also her hysteria and emotional breakdowns. The focus is on her struggling personality and her reunion with her sister. This gives the scenes in the cult even more tension.

Rating: 4,5/ 5

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