David is in Sydney for work and he asked me if I wanted to go see a movie. Me being me, I did. So we went and saw Martha Marcy May Marlene. I only really heard good things about this movie so I was feeling optimistic. It’s about a girl who manages to escape from an abusive cult and must deal with the repercussions while living with her older sister.
It’s a pretty darn good film. It’s smart, well written, well acted and nicely shot with interesting characters. The cult is too not outlandish, though it is is pretty extreme in the end. Having once made a cult film which was not that great, I reckon the greatness of this one fills the hole in the market for films about girls in cults that our film didn’t quite manage to fill. The cult leader was charismatic, gentle, horrid and abusive. Everything you need in a good cult leader. Elizabeth Olsen did a very good job of being messed up.
What struck me about the film was that one of the great strengths of the cult was communication. They were very good at talking to their people about what was going on and controlling the conversation. Communication made the cult work. When Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) was with her family, while she was safe, their great downfall was communication. Martha’s inability to speak about her experiences and her sister and brother-in-law’s inability to take time to listen to her, meant that they couldn’t help Martha heal or begin to understand what she was going through.
The movie did a wonderful job of not treating the audience like idiots. While David and I agreed we love having everything spelled out for us, it’s nice when a film is happy not be easily package everything for the viewer, and neatly wrap everything up. The film was happy to leave things unsaid and leave the viewer in tension. Just like life I guess, full of things left unsaid, full of tension and uneasiness about the future.
Go see the film. Unless you want something fun, then you should go see Man on a Ledge it has no cults but much more action and infinitely more helicopters.