Martha Marcy May Marlene - Review

NAME CHECK John Hawkes, Elizabeth Olsen, Louisa Krause, and Christopher Abbott in Martha Marcy May Marlene

What early emotional pain motivated a young woman to vanish without a trace and join a rural cult? Where did she grow up? What was she like before she gave herself over to warped rules of female sexual subservience and nighttime robbery missions? Why did she stay hidden for so long? Why did she finally decide to leave the group? None of this is ever explained in Martha Marcy May Marlene, a sometimes maddening but undeniably intriguing psychological drama about just such a woman. And there are still more unanswered questions in writer-director Sean Durkin's provocative feature debut, such as this stumper: Why is a breakout star as compelling as Elizabeth Olsen directed to withhold so much when she is capable of conveying so much more?

Olsen — the younger sister of famous twin performing pros Mary-Kate and Ashley, but possessed of striking talent and beauty that need no familial hook — plays Martha. And also Marcy May. As well as Marlene, since all three names describe the same malleable woman. Martha was her name in girlhood. Marcy May is her nom de cult, given to the newcomer by the group's paternalistic, seductively twisted leader, Patrick (Winter's Bone's John Hawkes, adding to his impressive collection of skinny, charismatic, dangerous men). Marlene? Well, that's a variation on her Marcy May disguise. The movie's title, honestly, is impossible to remember. Even losing one name would have helped. Read More...

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20518780,00.html

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