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The Dartmouth
May 30, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Now playing in Hanover: 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'

Directed by: Sean DurkinStarring: Olsen, Paulson, HawkesRated: R102 minutes

Olsen commands the lead brilliantly firm and guarded in one moment, childlike and malleable the next as the film flips between her past as a cult member and her present attempts to assimilate into normal life. Durkin frames each scene precisely so that the viewer experiences Olson's paranoia along with her, blending and confusing the present with memories. The horror of the movie grows out of the mundane, and the viewer will rarely find a comfortable moment. Ashley UlrichWhile the film sometimes stumbles into confusion as writer-director Durkin navigates between past and present, "Martha Marcy May Marlene" remains thoroughly satisfying. Durkin's techniques can be disorienting, as the time and place of scenes can be unclear. However, the acting particularly from Olson and Hawkes redeems the film. Newcomer Olson carefully plays the delirious and broken title character, and halfway through the film, you realize that a star is born. Rohail Premjee

This film's disturbing nature is contingent upon its complete evasiveness. Durkin continually blurs the line between Martha's haunted memories of life in a cult and the reality of her escape to her sister's well-to-do lakeside home in Connecticut. Olsen, the emotional heart of the film, delivers a performance that is at once compelling and elusive. Martha's simultaneous search for an identity and rejection of everything given to her creates a captivating, though not completely satisfying, performance. Jane Cavalier