Thursday, November 17, 2011

All For Olsen

I cannot believe I will be complimenting an Olsen (Mary Kate and Ashley's younger sister) but Elizabeth Olsen is terrific and she was just wonderful in "Martha Marcy May Marlene," giving a breakthrough performance which just might give her award nominations.  She plays the same woman with all the names in the title (I can never remember the names, I even had a problem mentioning it to the ticket taker) and she is all those women at once. While Martha may be her real name, she had just arrived at her sister's house after leaving a cult/commune, where she was called Marcy May. She plays a young woman confused, with no concrete realization of what is right from wrong after living in a place where there is a different definition of those words. The director alternates scenes between present time and when she was at the commune, and I found it fascinating how a scene would start somewhere and end somewhere else. It is a technique that could be confusing, but I thought added poetry. With Olsen as the emotional core of the movie, you can see how deftly she expresses the difference of her lives before and after so vividly in each shrug, in each wandering eye, in the way she delivers a dialogue. There is as much said in what she doesn't say.  I was riveted by her every move, as she plays each scene in unpredictably, even if the script seems familiar. Sarah Paulson and especially Hugh Dancy are great as well, as the couple who has to deal with her post trauma state. And John Hawkes is creepy/charismatic leader of the cult. A lot of people have complained about the ending of the movie, but I found it bafflingly fitting. The performances here are the real star of the movie, see a star being born in front of your eyes. 

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