MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE
Martha Marcy May Marlene is an unsatisfying and frustrating 2011 thriller by a first-time writer and director, Sean Durkin. The lead character is Elizabeth Olsen (MCU’s Scarlet Witch, WandaVision), and this film is her first starring role. The presence of Elizabeth Olsen is probably the only reason this film is still around in 2020. After this film, Elizabeth Olsen starred in various film genres before becoming known internationally as Wanda Maximoff, aka, Scarlet Witch. Currently (early 2021), Elizabeth Olsen is starring as Wanda Maximoff in the unique WandaVision (on Disney+), where she is adding more people to the MCU. More on WandaVision some other day.
I call this film Martha Marcy May Marlene unsatisfying since Elizabeth Olsen’s character Martha/Marcy May/Marlene never really progresses, and the ending is ambiguous and unfulfilling. However, Elizabeth Olsen’s character received praise for her acting – which I hope is not because she took her clothes off so often – although that also is never really satisfying.
In Martha Marcy May Marlene, Elizabeth’s Olsen’s character, Martha, is known as Marcy May and Marlene Lewis by the cult where she lives. After two years, she escapes the cult. Flashbacks throughout show her life improving some in the cult before being shattered. After escaping, she stays with her estranged sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) and Lucy’s new husband Ted (Hugh Dancy) at a lakefront vacation home in Connecticut.
The creepy cult leader Patrick (John Hawkes, The Peanut Butter Falcon) and the constantly building music keeps you anticipating dramatic events. You are always fearful for Martha. However, not a lot happens, and the lack of adequate communication with her sister Lucy leads to frustration. But to be fair, Elizabeth Olsen, playing Martha, does make you feel empathy for an afraid, confused and brainwashed woman, using mainly her body language and look away stares. But the story unfolds tediously slow – and it doesn’t entirely develop – hence the ambiguous and unfulfilling ending.
The 2011 thriller Martha
Marcy May Marlene provides only a few thrills, the story never develops, the character Martha doesn’t grow, and the ending is ambiguous. However, it you enjoy the MCU it is worth watching to see Elizabeth Olsen’s first movie role.