|John Hawkes and Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene|
***1/2 out of ****
This is such a well-crafted psychological drama but it isn't the kind where you should expect a payoff. This is a movie about an unfortunate character who will be looking over her shoulder for the rest of her life. Martha Marcy May Marlene pulls you into the troubled mind of a girl who has escaped a cult. The form of the film, through editing and cinematography, seamlessly takes you on the main characters mental passage between the present and her time at the commune. This shows us a young woman who is in a seemingly safe place and has no feeling of liberation from the eerie fanatics who brainwashed her.
Elizabeth Olsen creates a character so convincingly confused and troubled, her face will be stuck in your mind for a long time after seeing this. John Hawkes as the cult leader has a sedated Charles Manson demeanor. Sara Paulson, as the main character's sister, continues to prove she is an extraordinary overlooked actress.
This is the first feature by writer/director Sean Durkin. I'll look forward to seeing more from him.
Here's Roger Ebert's review.