Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Sean Durkin directs Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson and John Hawkes in this drama about a young woman who escapes a cult only to find life at her sister’s lake house alien and disorientating.

A solid, well acted piece of indie filmmaking. We get the rundown of how a Manson-style sex cult indoctrinates its members in a unsensational yet queasy way. We get thrown into Martha’s paranoia and confusion as she struggles to reconnect with her sister and process the abuse she has been a party to. Durkin plays with the formal process, flashbacks are smoothly moved in and out of so we often don’t know for sure what timeframe we are in. Equally our moral understanding of the multi-named lead is eroded as she suddenly becomes more culpable and corrupted than we earlier assumed. Gripping.


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