Martha Marcy May Marlene Blu-ray
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Directed by T.Sean Durkin
Produced in 2011
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
A fleeing cult member struggles to re-adapt to life on the outside in this visually arresting conundrum of a film, whose moments of muted horror are genuinely chilling, says Peter Wild.
Pitched somewhere between the elegant glacial beauty of Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides and the more obscure and ambiguous work of Michel Haneke, Sean Durkin’s debut Martha Marcy May Marlene is a visually arresting conundrum of a film that will rattle around inside your head long after you’ve seen it.
We are first introduced to Martha (Elizabeth Olsen in the kind of standout performance that last year netted Jennifer Lawrence an Oscar nod for Winter’s Bone) as she flees a house in the early hours of the morning. She finds a callbox and calls her sister Lucy (played by Sarah Paulson, a veteran of such shows as Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives). Martha has been off the radar for a couple of years and Lucy is prepared to drop everything and come and pick her up.
Ensconced in the luxurious lakeside holiday home Sarah shares with her husband Ted, we learn via some chilly and incisive flashbacks that Martha has been part of a cult (although the word cult is never mentioned) led by a softly spoken John Hawkes. Over the course of the film, we come to see that Martha (rechristened Marcy May by Hawkes) may not quite be what she seems: has she fled the cult or is she in fact on a mission to seek out new property for them?
There are some genuinely chilling moments, ranging from a home invasion through to seemingly innocuous differences of opinion (such as when Martha informs her sister she is 'a teacher and a leader'), and an abrupt ending (in the vein of The Sopranos) that will leave you wondering what was about to happen. Best approached as a muted nuanced horror film than a slice of apple pie family drama, Durkin's debut stands alongside the likes of Take Shelter as one of the best examples of US indie film-making of recent months.
Peter Wild on 16th April 2012
Author of 99 reviews
A fleeing cult member struggles to re-adapt to life with her sister's family in Martha Marcy May Marlene - a powerful, award-winning psychological drama from director T. Sean Durkin.
Although she now lives a tranquil life at her sister Lucy's home in Connecticut, Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) is still haunted by the memories of her time spent under the spell of cult leader Patrick (John Hawkes) at his retreat in the Catskills. As the weeks go by and Lucy's family struggles to cope with her increasingly erratic mental state, Martha becomes filled with an increasing sense of foreboding and paranoia, as she fears that Patrick is about to return and exact his revenge.
Publisher: 20th Century Fox
Length: 97 mins
Aspect ratio: Widescreen
Cat No: 5250107000
Format: Blu-ray Colour
Subtitles: , Hard of Hearing - English
- Documentaries: 'Spotlight on Elizabeth Olsen', 'The Psyche of a Cult', 'Mary Last Seen'