Martha Marcy May Marlene ★★★★½
(USA, 102 min.)
Written and directed by Sean Durkin
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes.
The film is the mesmerizing tale of Martha (Elizabeth Olsen), who is on the lam after escaping a cult. As Martha tries to make a clean break while taking refuge with her sister (Sarah Paulson, just as fantastic as she was during her Studio 60 days), she is haunted by her past life as Marcy May, the identity put upon her by the cult's leader (John Hawkes). Central to the success of the creepy atmosphere is Elizabeth Olsen's phenomenal debut as Martha (and her alter-egos Marcy May and Marlene). Not only is MMMM a great debut for Olsen (the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley), but she gives one of the best performances of the year.Writer/director Sean Durkin also does a fascinating job of weaving together the past and present strands of Martha/Marcy May's situation, often transitioning from one life to the other by a simple match cut. As I wrote in my TIFF review, Martha Marcy May Marlene is a "taut, beguiling thriller."
Martha Marcy May Marlene opens November 11 in Ottawa at World Exchange Empire 7.