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Martha Marcy May Marlene Review Critics


Dave White Profile

A very cool Creepy Crawl. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    A horror movie that follows none of the predictable paths of the genre, it offers disturbing psychological drama and nuanced chills rather than outright terror.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Elizabeth Olsen steps onto the radar as a seriously accomplished actor in this mesmerizing drama, which also marks an assured feature debut for writer-director Sean Durkin.

    Read Full Review

  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Martha Marcy May Marlene leaves a viewer hanging, quite literally, lost in an enveloping fog of mood without resolution. Olsen, meanwhile, definitely marks her arrival.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    A linear story, or one that was fragmented more clearly, could have been more effective. Still, a good film, ambitious and effective, introducing a gifted young actress and a director whose work I'll anticipate.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    The acting in Durkin's feature is excellent. Olsen is utilized largely as an object for camera adoration, but not in the usual glamorizing way. Olsen, Hawkes and company play slippery figures with lovely assurance.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

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
  • message true1

    Messages: Sometimes your sense of self can override messages that, though packaged gently, may actually be damaging or even malicious.

  • rolemodels true2

    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 false3

    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 false4

    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 false4

    Language: Many uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "d--k," "hell," "goddamn," and more.

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Discussion about how some people define themselves through material wealth.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    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.