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Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Genders: Thriller, Drama

Director: Sean Durkin

Writer: Sean Durkin

Actors: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Christopher Abbott

Year: 2011
Run time: 1h 42min
IMDB score: 7
Updated: 3 years ago

Movie infomation

Movie name: Martha Marcy May Marlene

Genders: Thriller, Drama

Imdb Score: 7

Runtime: 1h 42min

Released: 21 Dec 2011

Director: Sean Durkin

Writer: Sean Durkin

Actors: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Christopher Abbott

Box Office: $3.0M

Company: Fox Searchlight


Imdb Link

Martha Marcy May Marlene Available Subtitles

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Turkish subtitles Martha Marcy May Marlene3 years ago
Korean subtitles Martha Marcy May Marlene3 years ago
Serbian subtitles Martha Marcy May Marlene3 years ago
Arabic subtitles Martha Marcy May Marlene3 years ago
Brazilian Portuguese subtitles Martha Marcy May Marlene3 years ago
English subtitles Martha Marcy May Marlene3 years ago
Polish subtitles Martha Marcy May Marlene3 years ago



Brilliantly unnerving

5/10 Martha Marcy May Marlene is literally one of the most difficult movie titles to remember in recent memory; at least until after you see the film. Shortened to MMMM in movie conversations, when you tell people that title their reply is usually along the lines of, "That sounds REALLY stupid." But Martha Marcy May Marlene is pretty much the furthest thing from stupid a film could possibly be. But then if you were try to convince somebody that a movie starring a younger sister of the Olsen twins is not only good but filled with some pretty extraordinary acting, you'd probably be laughed at. If you enjoy independent film, watch the trailer for Martha Marcy May Marlene and go into the full-length film with an open mind. It's practically guaranteed you'll be surprised with what you discover.

Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) has just returned home to her family; Lucy (Sarah Paulson) and her husband Ted (Hugh Dancy). Martha disappeared two years ago without a trace. She never called anyone or let anyone know where she was going; she was just gone. Now that Martha has returned, she doesn't seem right. She acts strangely and can't tell the difference between the past, the present, and events that she dreamed about. But she doesn't want to talk about it. She did however live with a man named Patrick (John Hawkes) on a farm with a group of other women who basically worshipped the ground Patrick walked on. But whatever happened there has tainted Martha. The events that transpired there still haunt her to this day and Martha soon comes to realize that the life she had for two years isn't so easy to run away from.

Martha Marcy May Marlene reels you in right from the start. You see Martha take off into the woods and the shaky point of view that's used along with the positioning of the camera gives you the sense that you're chasing after her, which is basically what you're doing the entire film. There's this constant sense of uneasiness dripping over each frame of the film even before anything is actually revealed. The absence of a score does wonders, but every once in awhile a slow rising high pitched tone can be heard to make things more tense and it works in spades.

The film itself is rather upsetting and almost off-putting in a way. It's incredibly difficult to watch at times, but hard to pull yourself away from at the same time. Elizabeth Olsen is an interesting actress to watch. She spends the majority of the film keeping to herself and not wanting to talk about the hell she's been through the past two years, but her unusual behavior along with how insanity begins to slip through the cracks of the front she puts on in front of her family is the beauty of not only the character but her performance as well. John Hawkes has always been a compelling actor anyway, but he's in top form here. Patrick is a very driven individual. Of course, the way he lives and his ideals are completely off the wall but it's the way he's so calm about it and so confident that makes it believable. Then there's his dark side that's just downright scary. The whole scenario brings to mind a famous serial killer; a certain family from the 1960s.

However like most movies the less you know about Martha Marcy May Marlene going in the better. One of the film's charms is how it transitions between the past and the present. It illustrates to perfection the thought process and current mindset of the Martha character. Marcy's Song, which is performed by John Hawkes, is a beautiful song but its context is genuinely creepy. Most of the conversations between Martha and her sister Lucy are some of the best scenes in the film. Their conversation by the lake while Ted is making dinner is one that stands out. You find yourself just enthralled with the film and just entranced with everything going on, but the ending is kind of a letdown. It's very open-ended and was obviously done to keep you talking (which it has done very successfully), but it didn't feel completely satisfying to me. It doesn't necessarily hurt the film overall, but is just a small nitpick on my end.

Martha Marcy May Marlene is driven by an exceptional cast and an engaging story while being wrapped up in an incredibly unnerving presentation. There doesn't really seem to be a weak actor in the cast as Elizabeth Olsen shows she's a very talented actress and John Hawkes continues to show how talented he really is. Martha Marcy May Marlene keeps you guessing, keeps you on the edge of your seat, and is just brilliant storytelling all around.

3 years ago

What's wrong with you?

7/10 Greetings again from the darkness. This one has been on my radar since the Sundance Festival and all the raves about Elizabeth Olsen's performance. After attending a screening last evening, I find myself at a loss to adequately describe not just her stunning turn, but also this unusual film from writer/director Sean Durkin.

On the surface, this sounds like just another movie peeking inside a creepy cult that brainwashes, and psychologically and physically abuses women, and is led by a charismatic (and creepy) religious style figure-head. There are many similarities to the Manson-family story of which much has been published, but Mr. Durkin takes the film in a much different and very creative direction by concentrating on what happens to Martha (Olsen) after she escapes the cult.

In the Q&A, Durkin states he did much research and found the most fascinating story to be that of a cult escapee and what she went through during her first three weeks of freedom. Martha sneaks out early one morning and places a panic call to her older sister, whom she hasn't communicated with in two years. Settling in to the lake house with big sis and new brother-in-law, it becomes quite obvious that Martha doesn't know how to fit in society and has absolutely no interest in discussing her recent past.

The sister is played very well by Sarah Paulson, and her husband is Hugh Dancy (so very good in Adam). This seemingly normal yuppie couple is trying to do right by Martha, but the fits of paranoia, outbursts of anger, and societal goofs are just too much for them.

The genius of this film is in the story telling. The cinematic toggling between today and moments of time at the cult farm house leads the viewer right into the confused mind of Martha. We don't get much back story but it's obvious she was "ripe" for cult world when she was chosen. We see how Patrick, the quietly charismatic leader, sings her a song and steals her heart ... she wants so much to belong. We also see how she bonds with the other women at the farm house, and ends up in a situation that seems to snap her out just enough so she finds the strength to leave. The editing of scenes between these two worlds in outstanding and serve to keep the viewer glued to the screen.

Last year I raved about an independent film called Winter's Bone. I chose it as one of the year's best and it ended with some industry award recognition. I am not willing to say this film is quite at that level, but I will say that the younger sister of the Olsen twins, Elizabeth, delivers an incredible first feature film performance and Sean Durkin deserves an audience for his first feature film as writer/director. Another bond between the two indies is that John Hawkes plays the cult leader Patrick, and Hawkes was a standout in Winter's Bone.

There will undoubtedly be some debate about whether this is cutting edge independent filmmaking or just another snooty art-house mind-messer. All I can say is, I hope the film grabs enough audience for the debate to matter ... it deserves it.

3 years ago

This is an unfinished movie....

3/10 *******SPOILER********* This was a film that started with excellent potential but cop-ed out at the end by having what people are defensively calling a "Non-Ending", which is utter bullshit.

Basically, the movie is fairly well made, keeping the viewer entranced enough to want more but always questioning where things are going. The movie is purposely vague and in the end, when you expect to finally learn something substantial, the movie simply goes to black without any resolutions; literally no pay off and no closure. It left a very bad taste in my mouth.

This is one of those lazy films that rather then entertain the audience with intrigue and then finally a climax, uses the viewers investment against them and pisses them off to get them to talk about the movie after it's over. Writing a movie with it's buzz in mind rather then it's context shows how much integrity the director has. For that reason, I say don't waste your time with this film because most regular film goers will feel betrayed and disappointed that the movie builds up to literally nothing.

The main protagonist was pretty decent, I must admit, but when you go over the entirety of the movie, it becomes pretty clear that it accomplished very little, always teasing that it had more, but then coming up completely short. You will be disappointed, guaranteed.

3 years ago


2/10 (SPOILERS THROUGHOUT) So you have a violent, murderous cult that kills innocent kittens (and innocent people too!) that barely cares when one of its members escapes (Lizzy Olson). Yes they tromp after her in the woods and she successfully hides. Yay! Lizzy escapes from the cult, but then she thinks it's wise to go into the town right outside where the cult is located. Oh Lizzy... why did you do that to us? What were you thinking? Don't you know they KILL people and will probably kill you if they find you? You should go further to a different town, or call for help immediately before you risk being caught! You never want to eat for the rest of the movie, why bother going to a restaurant, barely eating anything, and risk being caught? Anyway, she decides to eat at this restaurant. Then, OF COURSE one of the guys from the cult finds her chomping on some food at this restaurant. HOWEVER, for some unknown reason, he has a short conversation with her, and then he just allows her to walk. His motive you would think (as an evil violent killer) would be to either kidnap her again, or follow her back to where she's taking refuge. But neither of those things happen. No, it takes a curious phone call from the Lizzy back to the cult about 1.5 hrs into the 3 hour feeling movie--I get it she was a "teacher and a leader" with the cult and now she is being harassed by her sister's husband for being weird--before the question is asked: will the cult be able to find her? And what will they do? That question seriously should have been asked from the second she appeared at that house.

The illogical nature of the film continues on and on. Motives confound. Some of the writing is painful. The cinematography, which is lauded--I agree the framing and transitions are great--had some major issues with color and contrast in a lot of scenes. It didn't seem like an intentional creative mistake, just bad camera-work.

The film is divided into 2 parts: 1) scenes in the cult, and 2) Lizzy in the care of her sister. Back and forth. Back and forth. No real development. I wish this were based on a true story, then I think Durkin would have had a bit more to go off of, and the story would have felt believable. Instead, he has nothing but glimpses.

They say this film is filled with dread. But in order to have dread, you need to care for the characters. And what is this about Lizzy Olson's amazing performance? She plays plain Jane, and then crazy Jane. There isn't much middle ground, there is no devolution into madness. There's just normal and madness. It's just 2 notes, played repeatedly over and over. There's nothing to care for.

Above all implausibility and a two note script, was the worst part: the relationship between the 2 sisters in the "out of the cult" parts of the movie. It was the same monotony over and over and over again. Interesting set-up: sister (now crazy) escapes from cult and acts really weird, and she's now in her sister and husband's care. She acts weird, and her sister and husband have no idea what to do with her. But there's no real payoff or development. It's just like... sis is acting weird. Husband: "THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH HER." Ya, of course there's something wrong with her, maybe you should take her to see a specialist asap, or maybe contact authorities. She's obviously the victim of a crime and has been abused, and guess what? Maybe YOUR LIVES ARE AT RISK TOO because you have crazy here. Who knows who may be looking for her? People who come out of bad relationships don't act like they were victims of some horrible crime unless they were. Anyway, logical thoughts didn't go through ANYONE'S heads in this film. I think the most logical thought was on the nature of death brought by John Hawkes, that no one dies, that death is just a transfer of life to an alternate reality, that no one dies. And unfortunately, the same thing was true with my 2 hours, sucked into the vortex of time transferred to the MMMM Gods. My 2 hours is gone from me, but someone was happy my fanny was in the seat--it fed someone's ego.

The redeeming qualities: John Hawkes is amazing. His performance of the song "Marcy" is haunting (I want a recording of that), and overall what he brings is a huge takeaway. I want to watch Winter's Bone again. Brady Corbet is incredible. He needs to be in more movies. He played opposite Joseph Gordon Levitt in Mysterious Skin, and I'm surprised his career didn't take like JGL's has done. I wish the film had more of those guys, but it wouldn't have been the same movie. It may have actually been good. The premise is pretty kick-ass. The trailer is sweet. It made me excited for the movie. The sex scenes were well done and messed up. Basically every scene with Hawkes was excellent, and most scenes with Corbet were good. The transitions between the two realities were handled well and made you feel a sense of disorientation.

2/10: For the love of God, don't get sucked up into the hype and spend $10 and 2 hours of your time, or if you bring a date, pay to drive there, get some popcorn, spend like $25-$30 on this movie. It's not worth it. Disappointing.

3 years ago

Character development is not one of the film's strong points

8/10 In first time director Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene, Martha (Elizabeth Olsen), a young woman in her early twenties joins a commune in a wooded area in upstate New York and endures psychological and sexual abuse at the hands of charismatic leader Patrick (John Hawkes). Patrick is a Charles Manson look-alike, who calls Martha "Marcy May" (all women must use the name "Marlene" when answering the phone). Nothing is said about the reason the commune exists or what its philosophy may be, other than Patrick's misinterpretation of the Buddhist word "Nirvana", and his remark that death is but a continuation, not an end. We are not told the circumstances that led Martha to join the group, but we do know that her parents are deceased, and that her relationship with her older sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) has been strained.

In the commune, women's role is subservient. They work in the garden and prepare the food but are allowed to eat only after the men are finished. They have no beds but sleep on mattresses on the floor in the same room. Their initiation is to be given drugs and brought to Patrick's room for sex. Apparently, the house has many babies but it is unclear who takes care of them. Although it is possible, even probable, that fringe groups such as these do exist, and that the director may have personal knowledge of them, the members of the commune, as depicted in the film, seem little more than dehumanized caricatures of how some think "free-love hippies," should look and act.

Without explanation, Martha suddenly leaves the commune and escapes into the surrounding woods, reaching town, though followed by Patrick's assistant Watts (Brady Corbet). Strangely, she goes to a restaurant in open view and, even more puzzling, Watts makes no attempt to restrain her and bring her back to the commune, odd behavior for a cult that doesn't hesitate to resort to murder. Somehow, Martha finds the inner resources to call her sister who brings her to their upscale lake house where she and her husband Ted (Hugh Dancy) live.

It is clear almost immediately that Martha is having trouble reconnecting with society, but she is apparently too traumatized to communicate with Lucy or Ted about her present emotions, recent past, or plans for the future.

The film continues on parallel tracks, flashing back to scenes from the commune and her life with her sister. The reason she left the commune becomes clearer when a flashback depicts a home invasion in which an innocent man is murdered. Martha's behavior at Lucy's home is unconventional, to say the least. She swims in the nude and inappropriately climbs into bed with Lucy and Ted when they are making love. She fears that she is being tracked down by cult members, but it is not clear whether this is real or imagined. Martha's trajectory continues downward, but no one seems to be able to get a handle on the situation.

There is no intervention by the family when it is clearly required, no growth or adjustment on Martha's part, and not a single moment of sunlight lightening the film's dark mood. There is also no evidence that her sister or her husband have the empathy to create a space safe enough for her to communicate. In a home seemingly shut off from the outside world with no television or Internet to be seen, and no thought of contacting a counselor or psychologist, all Lucy and Ted can do is to shout repeatedly, "What's wrong with you?" "There's something wrong with her," until it becomes risible. Ultimately, Ted and Lucy decide to act but it may be too late. In an ambiguous ending, Martha's fate is left open for the viewer to interpret.

Although the performances by Elizabeth Olsen and John Hawkes are outstanding, character development is not one of the film's strong points. Though it is billed as a psychological character study, Durkin does not provide enough insight into Martha's character, philosophy, or motives for us to identify with or care about what her fate may be. Martha Marcy May Marlene is a psychological thriller that is beautifully performed and, at times, gripping, but ultimately does not seem to have much point other than to tell us that destructive cults are well destructive, that they mess with your mind, and that failure to talk about them afterwards can mess up your head even worse.

3 years ago