With a title like Martha Marcy May Marlene, you half expect this indie flick to be about some backwoods lass in cutoffs and a t-shirt. And you would only be about half right in that assumption. The low-key independent film — which is marketed on the backside of the cover as a “gripping psychological thriller,” though I think it is more accurate description would be “a boring infuriating drama” — brings us the account of a lost soul named Martha (Elizabeth Olsen, the other “other” Olsen sister, in her feature film debut), who, at the beginning of our tale, escapes from the confines of a rural cult commune, and is picked up by her sister, Lucy (Sarah Paulson).
Thoroughly brainwashed by the cult’s deranged leader (John Hawkes — choice casting), Martha — or “Marcy May” as her former “family” calls her — has a hard time coping with reality from thereon in. She feels it’s OK to crawl into bed with her sister and her sister’s husband, Ted (Hugh Dancy), while they’re having sex, having been a part of an open sexual group. She also feels Ted and Lucy are living life the wrong way by working towards careers, and strips down completely in order to go swimming in the lake (yes, you finally get to see some Olsen flesh in this one — and at least this sister has some meat on her bones).
Martha Marcy May Marlene jumps back and forth from the present to the past, and we learn of the various unpleasantries our pitiful heroine has encountered, as well as how brutal the cult she was a part of is capable of being. Unable to talk about what she has fled from, Martha just annoys her sister and brother-in-law a lot (as well as the viewer). Martha goes mental on more than one occasion, before her blood family eventually begin to theorize there might be something wrong. And then, after sitting there, staring blankly at the screen for 100 minutes and watching one random scene after another, waiting for something to at long last happen, the damn movie simply ends.