Saturday, December 10, 2011

Martha Marcy May Marlene

An unsettling drama, that may or may not be messing with your mind.

My rating: 3 and a half reels out of 5 

From the beginning of the movie, there is an uneasiness about this movie that only increases as the movie starts to wear on. The uneasiness will turn into frustration, and eventually an unsettling and disturbing feeling. It's certainly a well done film to evoke such emotions in a viewer, but it's hardly a film that would garner a second viewing. 

The story centers around Martha who runs away from an abusive cult and tries to reclaim a normal life while living with her sister and brother-in-law. Haunted by painful memories, Martha's increasing paranoia and erratic behavior alarms and frustrates them.

Martha is played by Elizabeth Olsen, the lesser known younger sister of the Olsen twins. But after her performance, she'll hopefully get a little more recognition. She reminds me of a young Vera Farmiga. The leader of the cult is played by John Hawkes, who seems to be able to charm Martha and sucks her in. He nicknames her Marcy May because that's what she looks like to him. John Hawkes has become the new creepy guy to cast in movies. A role I hope he starts to shy away from because he can be disturbing and haunt your dreams. 

And he clearly is haunting Martha. The match cut editing and juxtaposition of scenes moves the viewer effortlessly through past and present or in another case, Martha's conscious and memories. This movie came out about a year late, the mind bending movies were last year such as Inception, Shutter Island, and Black Swan. You can make a good debate about whether it was all in Martha's head or not. But considering the dark nature of the film and unsettling feeling you feel afterwards, it's hard to convince someone to go watch this film so that you can make an argument with them. 

You'll probably like this film if:
1. You like independent cinema.
2. You like mind-bending movies. 

You'll probably not like this movie if:
1. You typically like happy movies. 
2. You don't like to feel disturbed by a movie. 

"Oh Martha...why you so crazy?"

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