"Martha Marcy May Marlene" Starring Elizabeth Olsen


While Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen got fame and fortune for being cute child actors with minimal talent, their younger sister Elizabeth has proven to be the "real" actress in the family.  Making her film debut in writer/director Sean Durkin's magnificent and creatively titled "Martha Marcy May Marlene".  Lizzie shows her sisters how its done by giving one of the best performances by a lead actress in 2011.  While being recognized by critics and film festivals across the country, when the Oscars came around the Academy was apparently not interested.  This is however not surprising seeing how out of touch and irrelevant the Academy Awards have been over the past decade.  

This film is about a young woman's return to "normal" society after spending two years in a cult.  Martha is a regular girl who has dealt with her share of hardships. Her parents are no longer around and she has little contact with her only sister. Looking for a new family and a place to belong she is taken in by a seemingly friendly commune in the Catskills, lead by charismatic leader Patrick (John Hawkes).  The story opens with Martha leaving the compound and calling her sister at a pay phone.  She is brought out to a spacious vacation home where she tries to mentally and physically free herself from compound life.  Things happen that trigger flashbacks and we get to see what life on the cult was like.

Upon Martha's arrival to the compound, she quickly makes friends with another girl and is introduced to Patrick who renames her Marcy May.  She goes through a systematic destruction of her old identity and free will and reluctantly becomes one of Patrick's followers. He has recruited this group of drifters and damaged souls seeming for no other reason than he like the feeling of power.  The members in turn look to him as their savior.

After leaving the compound Martha seems to be more lost and alone than ever.  She is in a constant state of paranoia that the cult if after her.  Her sister and her sister's husband try to make sense out of her disappearance but can't get much information out of her except for a bunch of strange outbursts.   Martha and her sister are very different people and have never been that close.  Although they try to help her, Martha is obviously in need of professional help. The feeling and atmosphere of the film is a combination of eerie creepiness and melancholy.  A psychological drama taken to another level by all of the people involved.  The Blu-Ray is loaded with special features including a commentary track from writer/director Sean Durkin.