Sundance Film: Martha Marcy May Marlene

January 21, 2011 : 9:45 pm | by Frank Arcuri

With a movie titled Martha Marcy May Marlene you would think it would be an upbeat film with an uplifting score involving four sisters who share a pair of jeans in order to stay in touch. Wrong, wrong. This psychological thriller is one of the more disturbing films I’ve seen in my life, and for no other reason that the idea that something like this movie could happen. There’s minimal violence or actual footage of gory, coarse scenes. However it still had this profound effect on me that in the end I didn’t even bother to wait once the credits began to roll, I needed to get out of the theatre and back out into beautiful sunny Park City.

Martha and her sister

Martha (left) and her sister

The premise is about a woman who is brainwashed and convinced into living with and becoming a slave to this bum, redneck cult who specialize in womanizing, subtle rape, and abuse. Often referred to as Marcy May, and Marlene (Elizabeth Olsen) by this cult there are disturbing scenes involving the cult leader having nonconsensual sex with all of the 10-15 women who live there at some point as an semi-initiation. Other scenes include some members of the “family,” as they refer to themselves, participating in home invasion, theft, and sometimes murder.

Although the opening scene is Martha, her real name, fleeing the cult house and lifestyle to reconvene with her sister after 2 years of no communication, she has trouble adjusting back to a normal life. She plagues her sister and her successful English husband at their getaway lake house, with such acts as skinny dipping (which was a normal occurrence for the orgy thriving cult), and also intruding her sister and husband while having sex by casually laying on the unoccupied side of the bed.

The director T. Sean Durkin has truly encapsulated everything I would never want to happen to anyone in my family, or anyone for that matter. What disturbed me the most out of the entire film is not the scenes where these vulgar, coarse scenes are taking place, but the idea that something like this could be and is going on somewhere in the world/U.S. today. As for the quality of the film, and cinematography is was a 7/10 in my book, however the story line was not my cup of tea.

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