Olivier Assayas's film on the aftermath of May 1968 is infantile ultra-leftism
JOE GLENTON explains his need to respond to a world that is unsustainably divided
ENO's production of La Boheme is a triumph,
Martha Marcy May Marlene is one of those message films that isn't so much mysterious as irritating since it fails to satisfy the advance hype.
Written and directed by Sean Durkin it stars Elizabeth Olsen in the eponymous role as a woman trying to deal with the consequences of being involved in a cult.
We see her sneak from a farm house in upstate New York and ring her sister Lucy (Sarah Paulsen) before arriving in the luxury mansion in Connecticut she shares with British husband Ted (Hugh Dancy).
Yet despite encouragement to explain her estrangement she exhibits the dumb insolence of somebody harbouring a fear resulting from her parental past.
The film switches back and forth as it reveals her time dealing with the cult's manipulative leader Patrick (John Hawkes) and the misanthropic behaviour which serves to increase her paranoia.
Yet after introducing the notion that "fear makes you more aware," the film never addresses her reasons for running beyond some anxious glances between the sibling sisters.
Cults are substitute families with a bent for indoctrination and inquisition, since their adherents have usually been physically and psychologically abused.
But the protagonist doesn't exhibit the fragility of a needy neurotic as she demonstrates her ability to outwit one of her pursuers while warning off another wannabe acolyte.
The irony is that it's the uptight, ambitious ex-pat Ted who points out the bottom line: "Who's paying the bills?"
That question would have resonance if she were working class as it's possibly the reason why such cults traditionally offer a refuge for the children of the privileged.
Inevitably a sense of desensitisation sets in, leading to thoughts of seeking spiritual solace of the kind only to be found in a bottle.
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