Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)


Drama | Thriller


Sean Durkin




Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy, Brady Corbet, Christopher Abbott, Michael Chmiel, Maria Dizzia, Julia Garner, Louisa Krause


After running away from an abusive cult, Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) is haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia.


Last year I kept on hearing so many good things about this film I finally decided to give it a try. It was definitely worth it.

"Martha Marcy May Marlene" is a quite tense and intense psychological thriller with a very strong central performance from Elizabeth Olsen.

One of the film's biggest strengths is the story. While many may find it confusing as it blends the present with flashbacks from the past, I found it highly engaging and not confusing at all. It just requires you to watch the film carefully. Actually I think these parallel narratives work very well in this film because they deliver the story as the main character experiences it, which makes it definetly more disturbing. 

Anyway, what I did enjoy the most about it is that it isn't just a story about a cult aiming to show how destructive cults are, but it successfully shows how hard it can be to go back to normality once you've been living in an entire different world.

Through its main character, the film also explores the human fragility and vulnerability, as well as a sense of confusion and growing paranoia. And Elizabeth Olsen deserves most of the credits for that. She gives a fantastic performance both as Martha, a character who has forgotten what normal means, and as Marcy May, a character that has been taught to ignore the meaning of normal (yes, they are the same person). The supporting cast also does a good job, especially Sarah Paulson as Martha's sister.

This unsettling film also features a cinematography that manages to be incredibly distant at times, and way too close, almost uncomfortable, others.


  1. Great write up! I love this film, Elizabeth Olsen is so talented.

    1. Thank you! I agree, she's great, she needs to make more movies like this one.

  2. I think this was the first film I saw Olsen in and I was blown away on her performance. I hope she does more films like these.

    1. I think I've seen her for the first time in Oldboy, and I wasn't that happy with her performance. But here she is fantastic.