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Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

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



3,525 ( 1,139)
22 wins & 70 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Bartender (as Adam Thompson)
Man in Home #2
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

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



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) (23 October 2011)


$2,981,638 (USA) (5 February 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Elizabeth Olsen and Sarah Paulson invented together some background for the sisters' relationship. So every scene when they talked about their past, although it's vague on the script and for the viewer, Olsen and Paulson knew exactly what Martha and Lucy are talking about. 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 Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.24 (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

Not Great
7 June 2012 | by (North Lanarkshire, Scotland) – See all my reviews

This film got a lot of praise and was even described as one of the best films of 2011, after watching it I find it hard to see why people would say that.

The content is good, the story is of a girl trying to adapt back to normal life after escaping a cult. It is edited in a very clever way, with flashbacks to memories of the cult dotted throughout. Each flashback's beginning is similar to the real life situation. As the film progresses the flashbacks become longer and her reaction to them becomes more severe but this is as far as the film goes. Elizabeth Olsen was very good and this is a great debut for her. Other performances in the film were pretty weak and the storyline at some points can be weak too.

At some points it feels like the film is trying too hard to be unique. It deliberately doesn't explain certain things like why the sisters' lives went on such different paths perhaps because they wanted to leave so much of this film's content for the viewers to question. It just makes you more and more frustrated, especially when the credits begin to roll and you realise that there was no real climax or even a resolution worthy of making this film one of the best of 2011.

The way in which this film is shot is great, the saturated colour scheme portrays Martha's bleak perception of life and works wonders for the tone of the film.

Overall, this film would have been great if they had just finished the story. Elizabeth Olsen has proved her capabilities in this and hopefully will move onto better films. I would not really recommend this film, it's not a film anyone NEEDS to see but it's not terrible, the film is good but more would have been better.

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