Complete Synopsis: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1441326/
I'm tempted to give Martha Marcy May Marlene a higher rating than it deserves for what it could have been, not for what it is. It boasts two young talents who are showing tons of potential - director Sean Durkin and lead actress Elizabeth Olsen; Olsen's performance is subtle and effective, and Durkin's directorial work creates a strong sense of atmosphere, which is aided by the superb cinematography of Jody Lee Lipes (who also had very little prior experience in feature length films). It's a film that looks and sounds great, but unfortunately it doesn't mesh into a satisfying experience.
It's probably because there's so much potential and so much to explore, and so little of it is actually brought to fruition, that I left the film with a bitter taste of a missed opportunity. The cult, for example, is fascinating, seductive and nightmarish, and John Hawkes delivers outstandingly, but on closer inspection it looks like a perfectly generic hippie cult of the classic Manson prototype, and we get no hints of what their philosophy actually is, or about the personalities of any of the members. The same goes for the relationship between Martha, her sister and her brother in law, and most of all the ending, which suggests some very interesting subjects which the rest of the movie doesn't really explore.
To be clear: I don't object to open endings or films that leave a lot of information out to allow viewer interpretation, but in this case I felt it was done as a cover up for lack of decision on Durkin's part - a flawed script that doesn't really feel complete. I'll definitely check out his work in the future, but this film isn't quite there yet.
Kid Friendly: No
Bad Ass Factor: No
Date Friendly: Yes
Overall Rating: 2.50 out of 5 stars