Martha Marcy May Marlene


(out of 5)

Riveting, exceptional melodrama about a young woman surviving the effects of a cult-like commune in upstate New York.  gives a superb performance as a young woman who runs away from her extended family and takes refuge with her bewildered sister () to whom she hasn’t spoken in years. Staying at their summer home with Paulson’s new husband (), Olsen frustrates the couple with her aloof behavior and strange emotional detachment, flashing back frequently to her days of living with a group of people whose behaviour is revealed to be more of a dangerous cult under a wickedly charismatic leader () than any kind of attempt at hippie love.  Every scene is absorbing and subtle, so that even when the plot reaches for some melodramatic extremes it is wholly acceptable thanks to such intelligent direction by newcomer Sean Durkin and terrific acting from the entire cast. Paulson has never been more intense, and Dancy brings a wonderful level of sympathetic rage to the role of a man trying his best to be accommodating but unable to see why he should forgive this strange woman who has taken over his previously quiet life. Most piercing is the imposing Hawkes, once again filling the scary Man in The Mountains role but with even more bewitching seductiveness than he had in Winter’s Bone. This one is good to the last drop.

Fox Searchlight Pictures, Cunningham & Maybach Films, Maybach Film Productions, FilmHaven Entertainment, BorderLine Films, This Is That Productions

USA, 2011

Directed by 

Screenplay by Sean Durkin

Cinematography by 

Produced by , , ,

Music by ,

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Boston Film Critics Awards 2011.

Gotham Awards 2011

Independent Spirit Awards 2011.  

Online Film Critics Awards 2011.  

Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2011.   

Toronto International Film Festival 2011

Washington Film Critics Awards 2011.  

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