|Still from Martha Marcy May Marlene|
It's rare that I see a Movie so riveting that I'm haunted for days after and that's how I feel about Martha Marcy May Marlene. The Pyscho-thriller from Director Sean Durkin centers on a young Woman named Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) who escapes a Cult, then trying to reconnect with her estranged older Sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) and Brother-in-Law Ted (Hugh Dancy).
Seemingly safe in being three hours away from the Cult Camp to which she belonged under the watchful eye of manipulative Leader Patrick (John Hawkes), Martha struggles to open-up to and connect with Lucy about the mysterious two-year gap where neither had been in-touch. Silently, Martha is tortured by the shocking memories of her past two years, which saw her being brainwashed under Cult mentality, transitioning into an Enabler and a Sexual Commodity.
Tensions mount between Lucy, Ted and Martha as the latter fails to transition back into a normal life, causing much strain on Lucy and Ted's marriage. We witness Martha's Paranoia getting the better of her as time lines are crisscrossed between current and past. Will she be able to escape her secretive past or will it destroy her and her Family altogether?
I cannot praise enough Olsen's daring performance here as Martha, as she disappears completely into her role at a level reminiscent of Maggie Gyllenhaal and Scarlett Johansson when they first had exploded as Darlings of Cinema. She handles the wide range required of her role with skilled precision, going with ease from fearfully trembling, to being emotionally numb, to outright vicious and at times hysterical.
Hawkes also tackles his role perfectly as a Cult Leader who at once is creepy, charismatic and terrifying. Paulson's performance as a concerned and battle-worn Sister should place her on-the-map as a proper Film Actress after an extended stint on Television.
Durkin narrates through judicious editing, grainy Camerawork and dim lighting which contribute well to the haunting moodiness of this Story. Definitely one of the more exciting breakthroughs of 2011. Fox Searchlight Canada releases Martha Marcy May Marlene on October 28, 2011 in Limited Release exclusively at Varsity Cinemas.