Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)


History has thought us that the human mind is easily manipulated. You can see it in how a dictator slowly rises by influencing the ones close around him and eventually a whole nation. It also happens on a smaller scale, for example as the documentary Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (2006) has shown. Martha Marcy May Marlene looks at how one person might slowly get into a cult and what it’s like to make the step to leave it and deal with the aftermath.

Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) is one of the members of a cult that’s run by Patrick (John Hawkes). At the beginning of the movie we see her escape and call her sister (Sarah Paulson), who picks her up and lets her stay over at her place. Martha is not willing to tell what happened (she tells her something different), but she acts strangely as if she doesn’t remember normal social rules. Throughout the movie you get to experience what she went through and slowly start to understand her.

The editing in this movie is just stunning. There are seamless transitions between the past and present and it makes you understand the difficulties Martha is having dealing with “normal life” and acting the way she does. It makes you feel the disorientation she is experiencing. Elizabeth Olsen delivers a stunning performance.

This is one of those movies you either love or hate. I went to see this together with a friend and he didn’t like, I on the other hand had a great time and wished the movie was longer, wanting to know more about Martha.

10 thoughts on “Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

  1. I also enjoyed the movie as it combines a gripping psychological study and a plot twist which leaves you cringing at the edge of your seat. I found Martha a little hard to empathise with given the persistence of her identity crisis but the film offers an interesting perspective on how underhand and sly sects can be.

  2. While I didn’t particularly enjoy the movie the insight into this young woman’s mind was truly wonderfully shown and deep and the performances, especiially by John Hawkes were great.

    • Yes it is as the friend I watched it with was extremely bored. The previous movie we went to was Tree of Life and there he had the same feeling.

  3. I enjoyed this movie well enough. I especially liked the ending, though everyone else in the theater seemed rather upset about it, heh.

  4. Pingback: The Many Faces of... Elizabeth Olsen - My Filmviews

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