Martha Marcy May Marlene

Not a happy film for a date or simple escapism. In fact I felt edgy and somewhat angry by the end of it.

The story slides effortlessly between past and present, mirroring Olsen’s character’s mind, to show us what happened. Olsen is powerful as the prodigal returning from a world she still is struggling to comprehend.

The supporting actors, as much as I like Paulson and Dancy, clank against the mood and Olsen and the rest of the cast. I don’t understand the choices made in directing the sister and her husband and we never get enough of the background to really comprehend Paulson’s character choices. This leaves an uncomfortable gap in the emotional connection of the story. This may have been partailly intended, but I think it was more rationalization than effective. I think the rationalization ended up with weakenesses primarily in the script and the direction. The dialog and interaction is often strained and manipulated… though in general direction not that far off.

I was also frustrated with the ending as it was too obvious and too easy. Again, this is a film where the ending could be open to interpretation, but I felt it was pretty clear. The view of the past comes with a reliable narration–if it doesn’t this is a very different film. Given that, and the rest that we see, we have to believe the end is what we think it is. You’ll have to get there on your own, however, or I’d be violating my own tennents of review.

See this for Olsen’s performance, but only if you’re in a good place and willing to be dragged out of it.


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