News / USA

Olsen Shines in Cult Psychological Thriller

John Hawkes portrays a cult leader and Elizabeth Olsen is the young woman who escapes him in “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”
John Hawkes portrays a cult leader and Elizabeth Olsen is the young woman who escapes him in “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”

Multimedia

Audio
Alan Silverman

Oscar buzz surrounds the star of a new psychological thriller about a young woman who escapes a cult in "Martha Marcy May Marlene."

Martha is a troubled woman in her 20s when she first meets Patrick, the charismatic leader of a cult in rural upstate New York.

But after living with the group, Martha - or Marcy May, as they rename her - begins to have fears and concerns. She escapes and returns to her sister, from whom she has been estranged for three years.

She may have run away from the cult, but Martha hasn't escaped its psychological effects.

Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of former teenage idols Mary Kate and Ashley, stars as Martha and is getting rave reviews. Although the character of Martha is based on young women who have been members of cults, Olsen says she chose not to meet them before making the film.

"I tried to focus on what was on the page," she says. "If I were to have talked to someone who inspired some of the events and emotions in the story, I would feel like I owed them reverence in a weird way. I'd want to tell their story and this is a made-up, imaginary situation."

Elizabeth Olsen (left) and Sarah Paulson, as the sister who takes her in, in "Martha Marcy May Marlene."
Elizabeth Olsen (left) and Sarah Paulson, as the sister who takes her in, in "Martha Marcy May Marlene."

John Hawkes co-stars as Patrick, the seductive and dangerous leader of the underground community. "I wasn't interested in a movie about cults, and then I read the script and the word 'cult' is nowhere in it. That led me to begin to call it a community and try to develop that idea more in my mind."

Sean Durkin wrote and directed "Martha Marcy May Marlene," which was shot on location in the mountains of upstate New York. While it was inspired by the real-life experiences of several women, Durkin believes the impact of their experiences relates to a wide range of situations.

"I have never been in a cult or come across one, but I do know people who have been addicted to drugs or are alcoholics or are in abusive relationships," Durkin says. "Most people do know someone like that and how many of their families step in right away and say 'Okay, we're going to take care of it?' I feel like people don't confront these issues. It takes a long time to actually get there."

Where it actually gets disturbs some viewers because Durkin ends "Martha Marcy May Marlene" rather abruptly.

But Olsen says it's in keeping with the film's realism.

"I think a lot of times we go to films to have nice, fixed story because we don't have that in our own lives. There is no fixed ending in any day of our lives. You don't get that in this movie, and I appreciate that."

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid