Martha Marcy May Marlene Sean Durkin

Martha Marcy May Marlene Sean Durkin
From what I've observed thus far in life, every facet of socialization is a cult of sorts, whether it's the broad, but standard Judeo-Christian morality and arbitrary socially acceptable behaviours or the more obvious incarnations like religion, corporate marketing or peer group identification externalized via wardrobe and custom preferences. Indoctrination is just par for the course, ensuring that any given, rigid and limiting ideology is maintained through assimilation in numbers, rejecting and expelling any party that defies or questions said status quo. This is why Martha Marcy May Marlene, a slow-moving character piece about the titular victim (Elizabeth Olsen) of cult immersion emerging from a subjugated and patriarchal community reliant on hippie-dippy values and occasional criminal behaviour, could be applied symbolically to any walk of life, wherein someone adapts to a foreign set of values and customs. Taking place after the fact, flashing back to cult compound horrors involving rape and animal abuse, this deliberately paced and well-acted look at conflicting social norms finds Martha struggling to find normalcy amidst her newly affluent sister, Lucy (Sarah Paulson), and her uppity Republican husband, Ted (Hugh Dancy). When not skinny-dipping, urinating on the floor or crawling onto her sisters bed mid-coitus, she tries to maintain, and remember, past social customs in an effort to re-join middle-class mainstream society, pointing out some of the absurdities of dominant beliefs in the process. While a sharp assessment of the limits to politeness and understanding, as well as a disturbing look at the many tactics utilized to exploit the weak of mind in a cult environment, Sean Durkin's feature film debut isn't much more than artifice. It's an impressive and compelling work of artifice, with exceptionally apropos moments of discomfort and emotional truth, but artifice nonetheless. With experience, thematic continuity, deeper metaphoric and human resonance will come, which is something to look forward to considering how haunting this ultimately superficial narrative proves to be. Included with the DVD is an early short film by Durkin, Mary Last Seen, which features a young woman being lured into a cult environment by a seeming beau. It too finds success from unspoken simplicity. (Fox)