Iffy for 17+
Disquieting indie drama reveals the cost of cult life.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this superb indie psychological drama about a young woman's return to her family after years spent with a cult is both deeply engrossing and disturbing, with heavy themes of alienation, family estrangement, and trauma. Young women are sexually assaulted -- the scenes aren't graphic, but they are upsetting -- and a violent crime is committed. Characters drink, smoke (covertly), swear ("s--t," "f--k," and more), and display an unsettling alienation that comes from being traumatized.
- Families can talk about why Martha joined Patrick's group. Was she aware that it was a cult, or is this a realization that comes later? How are cults typically portrayed in the media? Do you think they're ever glamorized?
- Are the characters and their reactions/decisions believable? Why or why not? Are any of them intended to be role models?
The good stuff
Messages: Sometimes your sense of self can override messages that, though packaged gently, may actually be damaging or even malicious.
Role models: Martha has a strong sense of self-preservation and is trying to figure her way back to balance. Her sister, Lucy, tries to be supportive but is clearly confused. Firmly in the "negative" camp is Patrick, who's a master of manipulation and treats others cruelly.
What to watch for
Violence: A man rapes women while they're drugged and, when they regain consciousness, spins it into something that's supposedly beautiful. He also threatens others and goads some of them into shooting an animal. Another character attacks a stranger in a shocking moment of extreme violence.
Sex: One scene depicts group sex (breasts and backsides are visible). Characters kiss; a couple is heard moaning and moving under the covers as they make love. Men and women swim naked in a lake.
Language: Many uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "d--k," "hell," "goddamn," and more.
Consumerism: Discussion about how some people define themselves through material wealth.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some social drinking (beer while hanging out on a boat, cocktails at a party); references to drug use (no one is shown using). Pills are crushed and added to a drink, unbeknownst to the drinker.
Fan Reviews provided by
The Worst! by mr.doover
This is the worst movie I have seen in a long time. Sooo slooow moving, terrible acting and lousy ending. I am sorry I wasted my money on this. I felt like asking for a refund. If you want to see it, wait a couple of weeks and it will be on cable.
Excellent and well done- but don't expect a resolution at the end! by jojackie
I always read several reviews prior to going to any movie- I don't want spoilers, but if a film is going to have a totally unresolved ending such as this one, I want to be prepared. Based on the many audience groans at this film's conclusion, I would say most did not do their homework! It was superb- and Elizabeth Olsen was outstanding. And, as a totally heterosexual female,I would describe her naked breasts as perfect!!
Enthralling by nullah
This film is very intense; you will be entranced by the cinematography and the faces of the characters. The most epic moment for me was when Patrick plays the guitar.
MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE by Blaise1967
The movie itself was a little dark and disturbing. The acting, especially of the youngest Olsen sister, was excellent. The movie is easy to follow between "current life events" and those from Martha's past. What I could not understand was why after remaining "missing" for several years, Martha's sister, Lucy, never just came out and asked "Where the heck have you been?" Had this been addressed, it may have made the movie a little easier to comprehend, not to mention, would have made it less difficult for Lucy to wondering. The ending really leaves the audience feeling up in the air on what is to become of Martha Marcy May Marlene
Martha Marcy May Marlene by PhDlovesMonsterflix
The young female star is pretty and appealing, but the film was dull and shallow about cults, family and ordinary middle class life, with mediocre film-making in pacing, color, sets, cinematography and script.
Creepy Cinema by moviemonster
This was the first film in a long time (not since Sweeney Todd) that my sleep was disturbed after seeing a movie. Martha Mary May Marlene was a wonderful showcase for the Olson Twin's younger sister, Elizabeth, whose tour de force performance makes this film particularly noteworthy. The unanswered questions, beautifully lit scenes, and supporting cast made this an unsettling, but worthwhile film.
Very slow, spare, beautiful, and pretentious by ignorantleafy
I wanted to like this movie. I was raised in and near multiple cults, in Northern California. I love beautiful, dark, unconventional cinema, like Irreversible, or Tree of Life. But despite the genuinely fascinating subject matter (rape-cult victim), the director seemed more interested in close-ups of Elizabeth Olsen's notably beautiful face than providing such mundane conventions as, say, a plot arc. Or an ending.
I get that there is an interesting tension between what is good and bad about the rape-cult lifestyle and what is good and bad about Martha's sister's conventional family/career-oriented lifestyle. But the direction of the film wants us to pay attention to the tension of Martha being ready to snap, and--either way--he refuses to deliver.
Standing at the exit, listening to exiting conversations, I heard a lot of people making polite, positive comments. Or confused comments. No raves.
This is the Sundance film we're supposed to like. But it's just not that good.
It's Watchable by HenryS70
It's interesting, but boring at the same time. It's not a movie I'd recommend to anyone. There's a part of the movie where the screen fades to black, and I thought to myself, "hmmm, I wouldn't be surprised if this it the type of movie that just starts the ending credits of the movie where it looks like there still more movie to watch". Well, the credits didn't show up that time, but I was right about how the movie would end. It's the type of movie where your watching, and then all of a sudden the end credits pop up, movies over even though it felt like the story in the movie was not finished. Best part of the movie was the acting and the attractiveness of the main character. The story was lacking.
Perhaps I should end this review the same way the movie ended. OK, the story in the movie left much to be desired because...The End.
If I had paid I would have asked for my money back! by cib728
I thought this was the WORST movie I have ever seen and I have spent a lot of time at the movies. Not only was this movie slow but it was frankly just boring. The only good thing to be said about it was the fantastic cinematography. I can give them that. Aside from that it was the first time I ever considered walking out of a movie early.
DON'T waste your time or your money.
BLAH by Cranky Critic
Barely mediocre. As I'm sure you've heard, the WORST ending to a movie I've ever seen! They say not to spoil the ending in this review. HA HA HA There is no ending.