Spooky, by another name
WHAT’S in a name? Not much. What’s in four names? Much more than you bargained for.
So it goes for Martha Marcy May Marlene, an angular and intense psychological drama about a young woman re- entering the real world after some considerable time spent in an unreal world.
Where has she been exactly? It’s hard to say. You’d probably describe the country commune where she has wasted the past few years as a base for one of those scary mind- control cults.
Re- acclimatising to normality is going to be tough for Martha ( played by Elizabeth Olsen). Perhaps even impossible.
The one person she knows ‘‘ on the outside’’, her older sister ( Sarah Paulson, both pictured), is now a complete stranger, pre- occupied by a selfish new husband ( Hugh Dancy) and his materialistic values.
The film gets downright spooky when Martha retreats inside her head to recall the horror of her time at the commune, and her abuse at the hands of its creepy, Charles Manson- like leader ( John Hawkes).
If pushed, you could call Martha Marcy May Marlene a distant companion piece to the recent dazzling downer that was We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Though not as archly cynical in its world view as that film, Martha Marcy shares the same sophisticated storytelling techniques ( the judicious use of flashbacks is particularly masterful).
Just as importantly, the mesmerising performance of Olsen is every bit as haunting as that of Tilda Swinton in Kevin.