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.