Something of a divisive picture amongst those who I saw it with, Martha Marcy May Marlene will no doubt split audiences’ opinions of it right down the middle. Is it a slow burn masterpiece featuring flawless performances and a brilliant story telling format, or a pretentious art-house drama that’s too embroiled in its own self-importance to deliver a satisfying experience? Personally, my opinion of it leans well and truly towards the former choice, however that doesn’t mean the film gets away guilt free. There’s still a couple of minor issues I had with it that while not severe enough to spoil its overall impact, still detract from what otherwise came so close to taking its place in cinema as an instant classic.
In terms of plot, Martha Marcy May Marlene (let’s just call it 4 M’s shall we) sounds like it could possibly be covering familiar ground. But the story is told in such a raw and realistic fashion, that it’s impossible not to be caught up in the dramatic proceedings playing out on screen. After disappearing for over two years, Martha (Elizabeth Olsen), an emotionally damaged and perpetually disorientated young woman, tries to reconnect with her now married older sister after fleeing from a sinister cult. Despite having escaped from this abusive society, Martha is constantly plagued by memories of the hardships she endured at the cult’s hands as well as the horrendous acts she played a part in. No longer able to distinguish reality from fantasy, Martha rapidly spirals into the deepest depths of depression and paranoia that threatens to tear the tattered remnants of her fractured life apart.
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