Friday, May 18, 2012
Martha Marcy May Marlene. B
This is a good movie, mainly because it's got some really strong performances and because, as a thriller, it's very clever. The movie isn't after depth or any real character growth. Rather it's about slowly conveying information so that the viewer understands why the young female protagonist (played by Elizabeth Olsen) is running away from a country house at the beginning of the movie. She goes to live with her sister, and for the rest of the film, writer-director Sean Durkin skillfully flashes back to reveal that the girl was part of a very problematic cult, headed by the chilling John Hawkes. I loved the way Durkin built tension, essentially making the viewer more and more afraid of this cult until we expect an explosive ending in which its leader tries to reclaim Olsen. It would have been easy for Durkin to have a huge finish with all of the suspense he packs up. It would have been exciting and acceptable. But the route he chooses, while scary, is much more subtle, showing tremendous restrain on Durkin's part. This is a director to watch.