Thursday, October 27, 2011

Martha Marcy May Marlene Review - 3½ Stars

Elizabeth Olsen (the younger sister of the Olsen twins) makes a stunning debut in this engrossing thriller. We don’t know exactly what has happened in her early years, (divorced parents, death, cut offs?) but we do see her escape an upstate New York cult and telephone her almost extranged sister living with her husband a few hours away in a Connecticut lakehouse. The girls reunite and they (and us) begin to notice her strange behavior—swimming nude in spite of the presence of children and families, coming into her sister’s bedroom and bed in the night as she has sex with her husband. Flashbacks show her involvement in the cult and with charismatic leader John Hawkes. We don’t know how she got the nerve to escape but we see the damage inflicted on her. Olsen is a woman on the verse of breaking. A final shot speaks to her paranoia and also opens the door to further imagined horror. I wish they gave this story a better title so I’ll just call it M4 and tell you it delivers one of the most deeply disturbing experiences of the year—a true horror story and a great debut for Elizabeth Olsen. Does it deliver what it promises? Frightening. Is it entertaining? Compelling. Is it worth the price of admission? a must see for film buffs.