Monday, 13 February 2012

Not Film 2012... but a film review anyway: Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May MarleneI went to the cinema last week and, because of the lateness of my arrival, had a limited choice: Carnage or Martha Marcy May Marlene (or 4M, as I shall henceforth refer to it. Judging by Rol's review I probably would have enjoyed the former very much. However, I went for the latter... and am very glad I did, to the extent that although it is only February I might have already seen my film of the year.

4M starts innocently enough - a young girl seems to be living a simple life in some sort of quasi-Amish agrarian commune in the Catskill's that might seem a bit odd to the casual observer but not really much more odd than, for example, the actual Amish might to the average 21st Century Westerner. But then our protagonist, who we come to think of as Martha, Marcy May or Marlene depending on the context, makes a break. She literally escapes the commune. What's going on?

Martha, an entirely convincing and scarily good Elizabeth Olsen (pictured), is quickly rescued by her estranged sister and from there two stories are told in parallel: Martha's struggle to adapt to conventional life and, in flashback, her time in the commune as Marcy May (and, on the phone, Marlene). And it's those flashbacks that make this film so effective, the way the story is delicately paid out. As you might expect, bad things happened in the commune. Very bad things indeed. I won't spoil the film for you here with any more detail than that, but what I will say is this. I like an FX-laden adventure fest as much as the next man. But I also love films that deliver a story at a slower pace, letting the viewer interpret without jump-cuts and excessive dialogue being imposed. 4M is just one such film - it tells a difficult story in its own way, at its own pace, and is all the better for it. Oh, and Elizabeth Olsen is nothing short of a revelation, giving a powerhouse performance - no mean feat, especially considering that she is on-screen for just about the whole time.

And the ending caught pretty much the whole of Screen 3 at my local picture house on the hop, including me, which can only be a good thing.

Here's the trailer - now go and see the damned film (you don't get that from Claudia Winkleman, do you?). Oh, and you'll be able to buy it on Amazon before you know it too.


  1. The Man Of Cheese2 April 2013 at 14:25

    Sounds like a good one to get along to... and on a totally unrelated and different tangent I see that the topic of one of your previous blogs from many years ago has recently come back on scene. Namely:

    Mr Duncan Smith told Radio 4's Today programme: "The public thinks that homelessness is about not having any reasonable accommodation to go to. That is not the definition. The definition inside government and places like Shelter is that children have to share rooms."

    I think your previous blog sums it up perfectly still - apparently if you are on benefits and have kids sharing rooms then they are homeless and you can go on the "overcrowded" list to move up to a larger (taxpayer funded) property. I bet the kids living under a tin sheet eating once every 4 days in Port Au Prince would gladly be homeless in the UK, sitting back after free schooling to watch the 50 inch TV while Mum and Dad enjoy some fags and Stella after a hard days work, sorry collection of benefits.

    I wonder why people flock to the UK in their tens of thousands with definitions of poverty like ours? Next to come is anyone working less that 100 hours a week is officially classed as unemployed.

    I must add that Shelter have disputed the IDS comments.

    Sorry - gone all angry and off topic but just makes you wonder, yet again, about the world we live in. Bah humbug.

    1. You go off topic as far as you like, mate. I can only agree. For any other readers interested, my original ranty blog post to which The Man Of Cheese refers was this one. Oh, and you can listen to Duncan-Smith's comments on Radio 4 too - see what you think.