26 March 2012

Movies: Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1441326/


After Martha flees from a farm where she's been living with an abusive cult for the past couple of years she tries to cope with the memories of the place while trying to re-integrate herself with her sister and the world away from that farm.

The title may seem a bit confusing but makes sense when watching the film. Her name is Martha. When she first arrives at the farm the cult leader, Patrick, says "You look like a Marcy May," which then becomes her new name. The Marlene bit doesn't become apparent until much later in the film. If you're going to watch the film, see if you can spot it.

This film could have gone bonkers with the cult life, it could have gone bonkers with her re-assimilation in to non-cult life, and doesn't. Yes it seems like a deliberately paced film, kind of slow in bits, but watching her post-cult life inter-cut with her memories of cult life, the overlaps and triggers that bring those memories on, becomes compelling to watch through to the end. You want to know how things are going to turn out. Does the cult track her down? Can she escape them completely? Can she readjust to life off the farm?

Stars Elizabeth Olsen as Marcy(etc). She's the younger sister of the Olsen twins of "Full House" fame. There is a family resemblance, but she doesn't look at all like a monkey (unlike her sisters). And she can act, too (unlike her sisters). I was rather impressed by her performance, completely shattering the preconception I couldn't avoid (because of her sisters).
The ever-improving John Hawkes is Patrick. The dude is easily recognizable and ever since I saw him as Pete the convenience store clerk in the opening sequence of "From Dusk 'till Dawn" I've paid more attention to his roles in other flicks. Always a "hey - it's that dude" moment.
Recognizable cast or not, they all did quite well and I didn't notice any cast or acting weaknesses.

Decent production and location choices too. The story does take on some darker themes, but as I mentioned before they didn't go bonkers about it. Seemed realistic enough.

Initially I had no intention of watching this film, but after hearing a few good things about it I changed my mind. Glad I did. A worthwhile serious movie night choice.

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