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Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  21 December 2011 (Sweden)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 38,598 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 184 user | 340 critic | 38 from Metacritic.com

Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult.



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Director: Sean Durkin
Stars: Brady Corbet, Stefanie Estes, Alexia Rasmussen


Cast overview, first billed only:
Bartender (as Adam Thompson)
Man in Home #2
Lauren Molina ...
Cult Member
Louisa Braden Johnson ...
Cult Member
Cult Member
Man in Home #1


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 napierslogs

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing violent and sexual content, nudity and language | See all certifications »

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

21 December 2011 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

La fuga di Martha  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$137,651 (USA) (21 October 2011)


$2,981,638 (USA) (3 February 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Shot over 20 days. See more »


When Marcy/Martha wakes up after freaking out at her sister's party, she is wearing heavy, perfectly applied makeup. Since she had previously had an emotional breakdown, then slept, this is unlikely. See more »


[first lines]
Watts: [as Martha runs away] Marcy! Marcy May! Where ya goin'?
See more »


Featured in Maltin on Movies: Margin Call (2011) See more »


Sophisticated Lady
Written by Duke Ellington, Irving Mills and Mitchell Parish
Published by Sony/ATV Harmony and EMI Mills Music Inc.
Performed by Sarah Vaughan
Courtesy of Pablo Records
Used by Permission of Concord Music Group
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Tons of potential
3 June 2012 | by (Israel) – See all my reviews

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.

24 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Were there two different endings filmed? JeopardyLeyton
I don't like these endings because ... martasavila
Tired of ambiguous endings Thrillho-5
Is Martha retarded? jimparrett
That is how to end an film! matrix5904
The obvious question that is never asked dazfiddy
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