Martha Marcy May Marlene
Scary But Salacious and Anticlimactic
Release Date: October 21, 2011
Starring: ** Scary But Salacious and
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 120 minutes
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures/News
Director: Sean Durkin
Executive Producer: Ted Hope, Matthew Palmieri,
Saerom Kim, Saemi Kim,
Producer: Josh Mond, Antonio Campos,
Chris Maybach, Patrick
Writer: Sean Durkin
Address Comments To:Rupert Murdoch, Chairman/CEO, News Corp.
Chase Carey, President/COO, News Corp.
Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley, President/COO
Fox Searchlight Pictures
20th Century Fox Film Corp. (A division of Fox, Inc. and News Corp.)
10201 West Pico Blvd., Bldg. 38
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-1000; Fax: (310) 369-2359
As Martha tries to start life anew with her older sister and brother-in-law after two years in the cult, she’s constantly fearful that the cult will find her and either kidnap or harm her again. She won’t tell her sister what happened to her, but the movie’s ingenious structure parallels constant flashbacks to the cult life, with her new life of freedom in her sister’s rural lakeside home. The more we see of Martha’s time in the cult, the more disturbing and at times terrifying the movie becomes, as the audience is left uncertain whether the threats are real or imagined paranoia existing only in her imagination.
Ultimately, the movie ends far too abruptly as Martha’s sister and brother-in-law encounter a strange man standing in the road as they drive Martha to a mental health center. The viewer is left wondering if the man in the road was indeed a threat and is chasing them in the closing shot, or if he is a typical innocent man who just happened to be standing in the road before climbing in his car and coincidentally following them.
MARTHA features Elizabeth Olsen and John Hawkes, as the violent cult leader. Sean Durkin shoots the movie with a style that makes it feel as if the viewer is helplessly in the same room as the characters at all times. The bizarre score mainly consists of a swirling noise that sounds like an out-of-tune orchestra all playing at once. This cacophonous sound is interjected at particularly tense moments, and only in brief moments is a more traditional score heard.
MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE offers a disgusting portrait of a highly troubled woman and the psychological dynamics of a Manson-like cult. It is ultimately too bleak and hopeless to offer viewers anything. At the same time, horror genre fans will be disappointed by the complete lack of story resolution. All in all, it’s a movie that feels stuck in neutral by its mysterious ending. MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE also contains plenty of strong foul language, disturbing scenes of violence, salacious situations, an orgy, a rape, and nudity.
The disturbing content in MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE offers little sense of hope because of its maddeningly ambiguous ending.
MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE offers a perverted portrait of a highly troubled woman and the psychological dynamics of a Manson-like cult. However, it’s ultimately too bleak and hopeless to offer viewers any entertainment value. Conversely, horror genre fans will be disappointed by the complete lack of story resolution. All in all, it is a movie stuck in neutral by its mysterious ending. It also contains plenty of strong foul language, disturbing violence, salacious content, rape, orgy, beatings, and nudity. MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE will disgust and annoy moviegoers but offer them little sense of hope because of its maddeningly ambiguous ending.