6.9/10
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192 user 350 critic

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.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Max
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Watts
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Ted
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Katie
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Sarah
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Zoe
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Bartender (as Adam Thompson)
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Man in Home #2
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Cult Member
Louisa Braden Johnson ...
Cult Member
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Cult Member
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Man in Home #1
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Storyline

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

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

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Details

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Release Date:

21 December 2011 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

La fuga di Martha  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

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

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Technical Specs

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There are several references to the work of singer-songwriter, Jackson C. Frank. John Hawkes plays "Marcy's song" in the film, while "Marlene" is played over the credits. It can be assumed that John Hawkes' character, Patrick, fabricated the names Marcy May and Marlene from these songs. See more »

Goofs

During Martha's breakdown in the party scene, the bow on her white dress is hanging loose when she is being corralled into the bedroom by Lucy and Ted. In the next shot, the bow is done up again. See more »

Quotes

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

Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.24 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Marlene
Written by Jackson C. Frank
Performed by Jackson C. Frank
Courtesy of Jim Abbott
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
"Invariably engrossing, intensifying and afflicting..."
30 March 2012 | by (Norway) – See all my reviews

American screenwriter and director Sean Durkin's feature film debut which he also wrote, premiered in the U.S. Dramatic section at the 27th Sundance Film Festival in 2011, was shot on location in Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley in New York, USA and is an American production which was produced by producers Patrick Cunningham, Antonio Campos, Josh Mond and Chris Maybach. It tells the story about Martha, a young woman who after having lived with a strange cult on a farm in the Catskill Mountains, decides to escape. After having gotten herself to the nearest town, Martha calls her sister Lucy who picks her up and brings her to a lake house in Connecticut where Lucy lives with her husband Ted. Though seemingly in safety, Martha is deeply traumatized by her experiences with the cult and unable to express what she has been through. Lucy hasn't heard from Martha in a long time and is happy to have been reunited with her sister, but as days go by Martha's behavior becomes increasingly unusual.

Subtly and acutely directed by American filmmaker Sean Durkin, this brilliantly narrated story draws an invariably engrossing, intensifying and afflicting portrayal of a young woman driven to the edge of her sanity and struggling to recover after suffering psychological and physical abuse whilst living on a remote farm under the power of a cult leader. This unsettling character-driven drama which is notable for it's refined cinematography by American cinematographer and director Jody Lee Lipes, production design by production designer Chad Keith and naturalistic milieu depictions, is a remarkable directorial debut and a dark and esoteric poem with a hypnotic score by composers Daniel Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans which emphasizes the films poignant and eerie atmosphere.

The fine editing by Zachary Stuart-Pontier and the efficient fragmented narrative structure increases the pace in this profoundly mysterious independent film about the dangers of seductive and misleading cults, targeting vulnerable young men and women who are looking for a sense of belonging, which is impelled by the internal and efficiently impersonated acting performance by Elizabeth Olsen in her first leading role and the great supporting acting performances by American actor John Hawkes, British actor Hugh Dancy and American actress Sarah Paulson. A nuanced and startling psychological thriller which gained, among numerous awards, the award for Best Actress Elizabeth Olsen at the Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards in 2011 and the award for Best Director Sean Durkin at the 27th Sundance Film Festival in 2011.


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