Friday, April 27, 2012

Martha Marcy May Marlene - DVD Review

Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Brady Corbet and Hugh Dancy.  Directed by Sean Durkin.


There's a few things going on here. First, there's the great performances from the leads. Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley, is a very natural performer, and Sarah Paulson and John Hawkes (Deadwood alum unite!) are very good in their roles too. Olsen plays Martha, a young woman who has fled from a backwoods cult. She finds her older sister Lucy but she won't tell her what she's been through.

The movie then jumps back and forth between the past and present, where we see Martha get drawn tighter into the cult, and then the present where Lucy has to deal with the weirdness of her sister. Martha seems to have forgotten how to function in normal society.

The movie draws you in with the quiet menace, particularly from cult-leader Patrick (Hawkes), who at best may be like one of the brothers from Big Love but is more likely the next Charles Manson. And so even with back "in the real world" Martha's always looking over her shoulder, wondering if they're going to come back to kidnap her.

At the same time, it's so quiet that it does have its slow parts. In fact when the movie ended, the closing credits jarred me; I had to rewind and make sure that yes, that was the note it wanted to end on. And it wasn't until the next day that the implication of the ending hit me.  So it's good as far as a first film from a new voice, but don't let yourself get overhyped.

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