“Martha Marcy May Marlene” is a psychological thriller about a young girl (Elizabeth Banks- younger sister of the Olsen Twins) who is traumatized by a commune experience with a charismatic cult leader ( John Hawkes from “Winter’s Bone”) and seeks the shelter of her estranged older sister (Sarah Paulsen) and brother in law (Hugh Dancy). This is a film to see if you are interested in seeing an emerging talent in an Oscar nomination performance ( my prediction). Elizabeth Olsen is fearless in her portrayal of the psychologically damaged girl with too many names for a decent film title. The multiple names will be explained in the film but let’s just say the girl with 4M’s is dealing with major paranoia and delusions that make for unnerving, challenging, viewing. There is a correlation between the commune like group lead by Hawkes’ character Patrick, and Charles Manson. John Hawkes is brilliant at raising the hairs on the back of your neck in a charming way, not an easy task. The film gives us snippets of  Martha’s cult experience to explain the bizarre behavior she exhibits under the care of her sister’s entirely different world view. There is a menacing undercurrent throughout the movie which unsettles the viewer: is Olsen’s character being stalked or is this another figment of her damaged imagination. A film for those who like to be challenged and who enjoy some fine acting, from a newcomer we’ll be hearing a lot more about.

Rated: R

My GPA 2.8

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