Martha Marcy May Marlene - Movie Poster

Martha Marcy May Marlene – Movie Review

This bleak but compelling drama with Elizabeth Olsen is not exactly a bundle of joy, so don’t watch it if you’re in the mood for a comedy. But it is a high-quality film that is worthy of your time. Olsen’s breakthrough performance is quite frankly stunning.  She plays Martha – a damaged young woman who escapes a strange cult and struggles to return to a normal life living with her older sister and brother-in-law.

The film frequently flashes back to her time in the cult.  Flashbacks are seamlessly integrated and at some key points, it is not immediately obvious to the audience if we are watching events in the past or the present – a deliberate attempt by the film-makers to convey the confusion of the character.  Martha even asks her sister if she has ever had an experience where she wondered if it was a real memory or just a dream?

The cult Martha may or may not have spent the last two years of her life with, seems inviting and friendly at first, in fact, the leader – Patrick (John Hawkes from Winter’s Bone) is quite the charmer.  But of course, there is always a darker side.  This leads us to the ‘compelling’ nature of the film as we slowly learn more about the cult and why Martha is so damaged.

This is a very good film, but it’s not going to be for everyone, it’s far from being a mainstream film.  Elizabeth Olsen has fantastic potential for a great career in film and I for one will definitely be looking forward to see where she goes from here.

My Rating: 7/10

About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, films and cool TV shows and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or via our socials. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on X / Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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