Every now and then a movie or performance comes out of nowhere to shock everyone at it’s remarkableness. Elizabeth Olsen, yes Olsen as in the younger sister of the famous twins, has had one of those moments with her first feature film debut, Martha Marcy May Marlene. Growing up in the shadow of such extremely famous sisters could not have been easy and making your own mark in films had to be equally challenging. One thing is certain, Elizabeth Olsen has, in one film, far and away surpassed anything her sisters have ever done. Her harrowing and haunting performance has given claim to the fact the she is the sister with the talent for acting.
Martha Marcy May Marlene is the story of Martha, played by Olsen, who is an escaped cult member who is still struggling to find the balance between what she was taught in her 2 years with the group lead by Patrick, played by the truly underrated John Hawkes. She deals with the struggle of still holding on to the teachings of Patrick while still knowing the dangers that life brought with her. While reuniting with her sister Lucy, played by Sarah Paulson, whom she never had a strong relationship with. Lucy and her new husband Ted know nothing of where Martha has been or what she has been taught and are having a difficult time trying to help and understand her after such a long absence.
Elizabeth Olsen and John Hawkes flat out marvel in their roles. Terrifying yet majestic in their performances. They make the film come together in a way that makes it difficult to look away even for a second..
The film is both quiet and frightening with a sense of wondering what will come next. It has an ending that leaves you craving more and with a want to know what happens to the characters. Some may call the ending empty and unfulfilled, but in true independent film fashion it let’s the intelligent viewer do some of the work and exercise their imagination.
This is not a film that will please everyone nor will it leave you feeling good, it will just stick with you long after it is over. Olsen has made her mark and it is a big one. The question left is how she and her career will follow this up. The bar has been set fairly high and her choices from here on out will determine how far she leaves her famous sisters in the dust behind her, make no mistake though, she will leave them behind.