Martha Marcy May Marlene ★★★★

This film has been on my radar since its first Sundance stirrings, but it's the type of film that requires a certain headspace and other films requiring similar cognitive/emotional preparation (like Rust & Bone and Upstream Color) became of slightly higher watching priority. As such, I've continually put off actually sitting down with Durkin's work. I don't mean to start a review on a digression, but do want to reinforce how much more I enjoy films within this artfully emotional spectrum when I'm prepared to fully digest the intricacies and challenges of such a film.

And this film is so, so worth being in that headspace for.

Durkin has crafted a truly disturbing psychological experience in Martha Marcy May Marlene, masterfully capturing the subtle nuances of abusive persuasion, coercion, stockholm syndrome and paranoia as the film oscillates between the protagonist's gradual decent into life within a cult and the uncertain future she faces as she attempts to reconcile two distinctly polarized worldviews and families.

Elizabeth Olsen and the consistently incredible John Hawkes deliver performances well worth their accolades, and the cinematography and colouring make for incredibly rich, compelling visuals, all culminating in a truly haunting film.