Martha Marcy May Marlene

To convey one’s mood in seventeen syllables is very diffic. That’s a haiku by John Cooper Clarke. You do and you don’t need that last syllable. To convey ones idea in 3 acts can be like that too.

Martha Marcy May Marlene walks us through the modus operandi of cults as Martha etc (her name changes as she advances through the stages of incultation) escapes her new family and tries to return to the old one. She finds herself comprehensively maladapted to her former life however, as the normal world is really just an alternative programmed cult and returning requires another brainwashing. Martha’s mind is so pulse-blended she’s paralysed, thus events are left to take their own unpleasant course as the cult gets a clue to her whereabouts.

Martha Marcy May Marlene shares a formal structure with a some recent indyish releases that jump about in time and have abruptly concluding narratives that farewell their viewers in an unexpected exit stairwell of post explanation and interpretation. They do this either to keep the viewer jumping back in time after the credits roll in a quest to understand what they’ve just seen, or they do it to avoid pat answers to complex questions, or more ignobly, to make a hole in the fence for weary writers to slip through and call it a day. These wayward forms often tend to further compound and confound expectation by throwing in something really narratively traditional and demanding of resolution, like a murder.

So yes, there is an abrupt conclusion to Martha Marcy May Marlene that likely will make you think about what has just occurred, for example the thought did the DVD just glitch and skip to the credits? However post processing of the experience should resolve to a well explored take on the pliability of the human mind.

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