Martha Marcy May Marlene  (2011)  B+ Newcomer Elizabeth Olsen is Martha,  a.k.a. “Marcy May,” and “Marlene.”   In a truly captivating performance, Olsen depicts the nuances of her character’s damaged psyche, following her flight from a cult.  She is at once opinionated, conflicted, paranoid, and confused.  John Hawkes portrays the source of her trauma, as the beguilingly sinister and persuasive leader of the cult that Martha flees.  It’s not the religious kind of cult, but the abusive, polygamist, home invading, sustainable farming kind.  Struggling to find her sanity and stitch together her fractured identity, Martha floats through the surroundings of her estranged sister’s newlywed life.  The film’s unconventional storyline is intentionally rough-sewn, as it jumps between locales, blending Martha’s recent past into her present situation.  The atypical structure makes it rewarding upon repeat viewing.  Impressively written and directed by Sean Durkin, the film alternately mesmerizes, disturbs, and evades.  Martha Marcy May Marlene is beautifully shot and extremely well-acted, as it weaves parallel threads of psychological drama toward an abrupt and ambiguous ending that is effective, if perhaps not appreciated by all.   89  B+ 
 Acting  A- Directing  A-Cinematography  A-Music & Sound  B+Story  BIn Class With:  Black Swan, Winter’s Bone, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and Paris, Texas
Martha Marcy May Marlene  (2011)  B+ 
Newcomer Elizabeth Olsen is Martha,  a.k.a. “Marcy May,” and “Marlene.”   In a truly captivating performance, Olsen depicts the nuances of her character’s damaged psyche, following her flight from a cult.  She is at once opinionated, conflicted, paranoid, and confused.  John Hawkes portrays the source of her trauma, as the beguilingly sinister and persuasive leader of the cult that Martha flees.  It’s not the religious kind of cult, but the abusive, polygamist, home invading, sustainable farming kind.  Struggling to find her sanity and stitch together her fractured identity, Martha floats through the surroundings of her estranged sister’s newlywed life.  The film’s unconventional storyline is intentionally rough-sewn, as it jumps between locales, blending Martha’s recent past into her present situation.  The atypical structure makes it rewarding upon repeat viewing.  Impressively written and directed by Sean Durkin, the film alternately mesmerizes, disturbs, and evades.  Martha Marcy May Marlene is beautifully shot and extremely well-acted, as it weaves parallel threads of psychological drama toward an abrupt and ambiguous ending that is effective, if perhaps not appreciated by all.   89  B+ 
 
Acting  A- 
Directing  A-
Cinematography  A-
Music & Sound  B+
Story  B

In Class With:  Black Swan, Winter’s Bone, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and Paris, Texas
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