Martha Marcy May Marlene
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In her stunning feature film debut, Elizabeth Olsen delivers "an electrifying, star-is-born performance" (Rolling Stone) in this gripping psychological thriller that is "far and away one of the year's best!" (Associated Press) After escaping from a dangerous cult and the watchful eye of its charismatic leader (Academy Awardr Nominee John Hawkes), a young woman named Martha (Olsen) tries to reclaim a normal life with her family. But the haunting memories from Martha's past trigger a chilling paranoia - and nowhere seems safe as the fragile line between her reality and delusions begin to blur.
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I'm speechless at her Oscar miss, now that I've actually seen the film.
`Martha Marcy May Marlene', expertly conceived, flawlessly edited and beautifully acted, tells the story of a young woman named Martha who gets inducted into a cult, dons the name Marcy May and disappears for two years only to resurface into the lives of her sister and her sister's new husband. She is close-mouthed about her time spent in the cult and her memories haunt her movements as she fears they will soon come after her. Martha tries to find her place back in the real world, but her mind and her thought process has been so corroded that she blurs the lines between real life and the life she was taught to the point where everything becomes a strain.
Hands down, Elizabeth Olsen delivers one so the best performances of the year. She is outstanding here. Her naturalness in front of the camera is expertly played against the apparent awkwardness of her situation. The way her eyes betray her own insecurities and the way she imbues honesty into her most complicated scenes. She's just brilliant here.
The atmosphere created in this film really takes it that extra mile. It is a thriller of sorts, playing heavily on the fearful tones accompanied by the idea of a cult survivor, but it balances those tones beautifully behind the mask of redemptive situations. This is the story of a lost young woman trying to be found. The thing is, she was lost long before she joined the cult and so there really is nowhere to be found since leaving the cult wasn't the ultimate solution. Sean Durkin's beautifully crafts this character study with so much care and delicacy. It moves, purposefully, at a slower pace so as to soak in that feeling of unsteadiness. Watching Martha's life interweave with the life of Marcy May is organic and completely overtaking.
I'm baffled that half these reviews are negative.