Wednesday 16 Apr

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Thriller · Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Desire for community leads to the dark side of humanity in ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene,’ a chilling film by any name.

Kathryn Jenson White November 16th, 2011

Community ranks as key on the list of basic human needs. After water, food and shelter, our need to connect with others drives and defines us.

Writer/director Sean Durkin’s unsettling “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” now showing at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, explores the dark side of that need for human connection: the giving up of identity and individual will to be included. Those offering that extreme Faustian bargain are most often men, and quite often powerhungry to the point of psychosis: Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson.

Like those infamous figures, Patrick (a pitch-perfect, pitch-black John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone”) is a mesmerizing patriarch. This charismatic spider man sits quietly at the center of Durkin’s film, a sinister webmaster luring into his sticky threads those looking for safety, surety ... something. Using strategies of isolation, sexual domination, drugs and, above all, fear, Patrick renders his acolytes unable to see beyond the twisted version of reality he provides. Community becomes cult; believer becomes brainwashed.

Durkin explores Patrick and his community primarily through one individual, she of the title’s many names. Played with depth and subtlety by Elizabeth Olsen in her first starring role, this young woman was born Martha, renamed Marcy May by Patrick as part of the identity-stripping necessary for total allegiance, and required to use the phone-alias Marlene to snare more innocents and deflect information seekers.

Brace yourself.
The film begins with Marcy May running away. We don’t immediately fully understand what she’s fleeing, but as she settles into her attempt to rebuild her connection with the one she runs to, her sister, Lucy (Sarah Paulson, “The Spirit”), we see through flashbacks her innocent-seeming beginnings with Patrick and the twisted events that unfold during her stay on the isolated farm serving as his base.

Lucy, who helped set Martha on the path to Patrick when she did not take her younger sister in after their parents’ deaths, clearly is not emotionally capable of giving Martha what she needs. Martha clearly is deeply damaged. Patrick clearly refuses to allow anyone the freedom to leave his clutches. A trifecta of trouble, to be sure.

The film builds a powerful sense of foreboding through Martha’s flashbacks to life as Marcy May as she attempts to break free of Patrick’s emotional and mental grip. Brace yourself for an ending that brings past and present together with a jolt, and offers little in the way of relief from tension: Durkin provides no neat, tidy ending.

However, he does provide a powerful, if occasionally heavy-handed, emotional journey through a dystopian world defined by the soul-crushing evil resulting from the ideal of community corrupted.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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