Martha Marcy May Marlene
“Your clothes look atrocious,” Lucy (Sarah Paulson) says to her younger sister Martha (Elizabeth Olsen), as she gets the latter to try on a pink, high waited wrap dress. Let’s flashback earlier within the movie when she drives three hours to the Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York to get Martha, looking like a homeless farmhand. Martha reluctantly accepts the dress, the room in a rental cottage in Connecticut and the laid-back summer vacation lifestyle despite having questions about her sister’s earned privilege. Martha’s in a fragile state where she still doesn’t know whether to conform to society, leaving behind the past she doesn’t want to talk about.
Martha Marcy May Marlene is one of the movies I missed at the Toronto International Film Festival. Its star, Elizabeth Olsen is already getting rave reviews and Oscar buzz months ago when the film premiered at Sundance. Her character, Martha is also christened as Marcy May/Marlene Lewis by a charismatic leader of a collective named Patrick (John Hawkes). We see some of the good side but most of the downside of living in a cult, the memories still chasing the young woman after she has decided to escape from it.
Which brings me back to the first scene I mentioned, Lucy behaving towards Martha with passive aggressiveness, as if they have never been separated. The movie’s conceit shows how both cult and families have the same masochistic mentalities. It’s a smart film that I hope you all see to spark some conversation.