About Grant

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New York, NY, United States
Film director and screenwriter. Cinephile since birth. Director of DREAMS OF THE WAYWARD (2013). Film Studies MA student at Columbia University.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Film Review: "Martha Marcy May Marlene" (2011) directed by T. Sean Durkin 2.5/5

This film is filled with great performances and has a highly unique approach to the storytelling... but that's it.
From the beginning, it is clear that the first time director/writer T. Sean Durkin is attempting to get the audience as confused as the main character on whether she is in the present or in the horrifying sex cult she spent the past two years of her life in. The transitions, at times, are often seamless between the present and her horrific past on the farm owned by the cult leader, Patrick (John Hawkes), leaving the audience in a constant state of being initially unaware of where they are (sometimes this can go on for an entire scene) which is very impressive and exciting.
The structure makes for a very unique psychological thriller, but what's lacking is the character development. The cult is oddly believable and doesn't feel too contrived for the part of America they're in, but what the cult stands for is highly questionable which begins to make viewers even wonder why someone like Martha (the name confused protagonist) would even join. We know very little of her past except that she is supposedly highly irresponsible, but very little of that is seen.
To cap things off, the moment that you think you are about to discover something important that will explain everything that the plot is missing, the film ends. This ending is not an artful cut off like "No Country For Old Men", but instead it feels like the writer/director forgot to write the ending (or just got lazy).
The film is almost worth watching just for the structure of the narrative, but the story leaves much desired and has very little payoff.

My ranking: 2.5/5 stars

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