My biggest “miss” so far, or so I’m told, is Sean Durkin‘s Martha Marcy May Marlene, a psychological thriller with, I’m hearing, a very srong performance by Elizabeth Olsen. (It screened last night against Win Win and you know the rest.) I was hearing “you should see it/definitely catch it” yesterday afternoon, but shit happens. My next shot is a Library screening on Monday night.
Lucy Olsen, Sarah Paulson in . Martha Marcy May Marlene
Marshall Fine writes that “it brings together two sisters, Martha (Olsen) and Lucy (Sarah Paulson) who haven’t seen each other in the more than two years since Martha seemingly disappeared. Martha calls her older sister out of the blue to come get her and spends the next week or so quietly unraveling at the Connecticut lake home of Lucy and her long-suffering husband, Ted (Hugh Dancy).
“Though she refuses to discuss where she’s been with Lucy, we see it in flashbacks: held in thrall by the charismatic leader (John Hawkes) of a cult on a farm in the Catskills. Writer-director Durkin never spells out the details of the cult – aside from each female member being drugged and raped by the leader as a kind of initiation. Yet each flashback shows how, slowly but surely, this group of young women – and men – are casually brainwashed into doing as they are told, until Martha finally escapes on her own.
“Olsen (younger sister of the Olsen twins) gives a performance of surprising range and depth – and it’s not hard to see Durkin messing with the audience by making Lucy and Ted’s upscale yuppie existence feel almost as constricted and confining as that of the cult, at times. It’s a haunting film that occasionally gets confusing, [such as]when the timeline between past and present is muddled. Still, that contributes to a sense of dread that permeates the film in ways that are hard to deny.”