For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.
2,954 Ratings

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Directed by Sean Durkin
United States, 2011


A psychologically damaged young woman grapples with her memories in a cult as she attempts to assimilate back into normal life. Her past and present intermingle as she tries to shake off a dreadful sense of paranoia.

This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
Martha Marcy May Marlene Directed by Sean Durkin

Awards & Festivals

Cannes Film Festival

2011 | Winner: Prix Regards Jeune

Sundance Film Festival

2011 | 2 wins including: Dramatic (Directing Award)

Independent Spirit Awards

2012 | 4 nominations including: Best First Feature

What are people saying?

  • Nick Schwab's rating of the film Martha Marcy May Marlene

    The comparison here between upper-class suburban life to a cult may be an interesting one, as both groups are about assimilation and following what you are told, unless of course you don't fit in, try to break free, or are not accepted. While the acting is good, the characters feel less like people, and more like a plot device for that message. Ultimately, the narrative is more repetitive and gimmicky than weighty.

  • Joe Hackman's rating of the film Martha Marcy May Marlene

    Instant favorite. I loved the cinematography - great framing, lens choice, zooms/dollies. I wasn't a fan of the coloring, though; maybe it was our TV but some of the shots were over-manipulated. It took me out of it a few times. Elizabeth Olsen was incredible, though, she gave such a raw performance. It was great to see isolation/paranoia portrayed so subtly and artistically. I really loved this movie.

  • HKFanatic's rating of the film Martha Marcy May Marlene

    A strong performance here from Elizabeth Olsen, but if you know the premise of the film and have read the tagline on the poster then the movie itself will hold no surprises for you. The less you know going in, the more I think you will enjoy "Martha Marcy May Marlene." Otherwise it's 110 minutes of a rather repetitive structure that takes you exactly where you suspect it will.

  • REH1101's rating of the film Martha Marcy May Marlene

    More a portrait of a shattered woman than anything else. The film sets an increasingly anxious mood and plays some decent head games which make for adequate homages to its influences (Polanski, Hitchcock.) However these are two filmmakers who were often defined by their powerful and revelatory climaxes, something this film definitely lacks. It unfortunately never hits that peak, and was thus slightly underwhelming.

  • Jake Cole's rating of the film Martha Marcy May Marlene

    A meaningless display of nihilism down to its meandering structure. Don't know how anyone could have felt suspense from this endless parade of match-cut tedium. Props to Jason Segel's character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall for those ominous tones, though.

  • Matthew_Lucas's rating of the film Martha Marcy May Marlene

    Elizabeth Olsen delivers an incredible breakout performance as a girl who escapes from the thrall of a charismatic and dangerous backwoods polygamist to live in safety with her sister and brother in law. Or does she? May seem aimless at times, but it expertly ratchets up tension in a harrowing descent into madness that may leave even the audience questioning its own sanity. Frightening and haunting.

  • Greg S.'s rating of the film Martha Marcy May Marlene

    Some complain about the ending but given the tension it builds I'm not sure any payoff would've been sufficient. It's refreshing to see a film meditate on the effects of violence and manipulation and the fractured narrative is as much a testament to that as anything visible on screen. The compositions and use of memories recall Polanski where segments of the film feel like a documentary on Olson's face. Masterpiece

  • Scout Tafoya's rating of the film Martha Marcy May Marlene

    This film's got one problem. Liz Olson is waaaaay too fucking smart to be the kind of person who gets sucked into a cult. I don't know if it's the script or her performance but I do not buy that she doesn't get that interrupting her sister having sex is wrong for a second. Which, I mean, you know, go Smart Olson sister, but that was the film's problem and it was big, but not enough to derail the beautiful film.

Related films