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A veteran high school teacher befriends a younger art teacher, who is having an affair with one of her 15-year-old students. However, her intentions with this new "friend" also go well beyond platonic friendship.
Shotgun Stories tracks a feud that erupts between two sets of half brothers following the death of their father. Set against the cotton fields and back roads of Southeast Arkansas, these ... See full summary »
Martha has run away from an abusive hippie-like cult where she was living as Marcy May for two years. She turns to her sister and brother-in-law who take her in and want to help her. The problem is Martha is having a hard time separating dreams from reality and when haunting memories of her past keep resurfacing, she may need more help than anyone is able to give her. Written by
Sean Durkin was looking for an unknown actress to play the role of Martha, which was the only role auditions were held for. Elizabeth Olsen auditioned twice for the role of Martha, and had to begin filming only two weeks after winning the part. See more »
[as Martha runs away]
Marcy! Marcy May! Where ya goin'?
See more »
The story is told in two overlaid lines: the first is that of the present, where Elizabeth Olsen's Martha has escaped to her sister Lucy and Lucy's husband; the second, interleaved, tells the arc-story of her joining the group of self-sufficients from induction to critical misgiving.
I love the photography of this film, which, in turn loves its subjects. For all the poverty of the group's situation, the pale linens and bucolic surroundings have plenty of crisp texture. Above all the intimacy of the group and the bodies of the women seem natural. There is nothing creepy about their closeness, nothing fetishistic about the voyeurism of the camera. Conversely, the wooden floors and bright white walls of Lucy and Ted's rental home seem clinical. No feet on the kitchen surfaces, for example.
The duplicity of the picture's texture aside, what is Martha etc. all about? Not a metaphor for something else (i.e. no intellectual hiding here), this is a film simply about the story on the screen. Rather like in McQueen's Shame, we are surreptitiously introduced to - and not given answers to - questions about Martha's pre-group past, her family life. The group's leader suggests that she has run from an unloving family and there is nothing to contradict him. Certainly the relationship between Martha and Lucy is fragile, combustible. Though I fall on the side of the idea that Hugh Dancy is miscast as Ted, it could be to further extrapolate the idea of the outsider who can't really know what goes on in the family - or group - situation.
In constructing this seductive nightmare (I'm not really selling it, am I?!) Sean Durskin is helped by a solid performance from Elizabeth Olsen and an entirely brilliant turn from John Hawkes as Patrick (playing a similar figure to that of his Teardrop in Winter's Bone but a very different character). Sarah Paulson is also very good as Lucy. Admirable film-making although it's a deep tissue massage of an art experience 7/10
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