Martha Marcy May Marlene

(2011)

Genres: Drama, Thriller

Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene

Transcript for Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene

 


CHRISTY: Next up is "Martha Marcy May Marlene," a tongue-twister of a title that makes chilling sense as the film unfolds. It is one of the most startling, haunting movies I've seen all year. Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley, stars as a young woman who flees an idyllic-looking but slightly creepy farm at the film's start. She nervously calls her estranged older sister, Lucy, played by Sarah Paulson, for help. At this point, she's known as Martha.  Writer-director Sean Durkin seamlessly cuts back and forth in time. In the present, Martha is staying with Lucy and her architect husband, Ted, played by Hugh Dancy, at a peaceful Connecticut lake house. But Martha can't shake memories of the past, from her years as a member of a hippie-ish cult led by a calmly charismatic John Hawkes.   Eventually, both story lines increase in tension, as the psychological abuse of the past and the paranoia of the present converge and collide. Lucy tries to understand Martha's standoffishness; her weird behavior, but Martha won't let her in.  The real discovery here is Olsen. She has a beautifully placid face that seems open, yet subtly conveys her character's inner torment. She's incredible in one of the year's best films -- a very enthusiastic thumbs-up from me.  IGNATIY: And a somewhat less enthusiastic thumbs up from me.

CHRISTY: Okay.

IGNATIY: Um, I have one kind of big issue with this film and it’s with the structure you can say. Um, it’s almost like a strip tease.  It’s this thing you see a lot lately in movies--become very fashionable; where the film has a sort of secret at the very beginning that it hints at, and then it spends the rest of its running time kind of unpeeling layers, you know, doing it’s little dance, and then, once it explains to you what’s actually…what’s say going on in the first scene of the movie, it’s got no where else to go.

CHRISTY: But, it’s a device, sure, but if it’s effective, if it works, if it builds tension then why not? And it does do all of that.  It keeps you hooked the entire time.

IGNATIY: I’ll give you that.  This is a really cleverly made movie. I think especially in terms of the editing, in the way that it jumps, you know, from one time line to another constantly moving back and forth using these match cuts.  This is some really smart filmmaking.  And the two really great performances, I think, you’re right.  Elizabeth Olsen is really great in this.  John Hawkes at this point, you know, I would say is almost a national treasure.  There should be…

CHRISTY: He can do everything.

IGNATIY:  There should be park rangers protecting his cranny face.  He does really have that…that charisma. I and the same sort of, I guess, charismatic menace you could say that he also showed in Winter’s Bone.

CHRISTY:  Right, and they’re very similar in terms of tone.  I think and some of the like dark kind of woodsy secrets that are going on there. I also like Elizabeth Olsen with Sarah Paulson because there’s no judgment as far as who screwed up that sisterhood.  Just they’re both trying to figure it out together.

IGNATIY: I don’t know I feel like the film is fairly judgmental towards the, actually, her sister.

CHRISTY: You think so?

IGNATIY: Yeah.

CHRISTY:  She’s trying.

IGNATIY: I don’t know.  We’ll, that’s a different conversation for later maybe.