Martha Marcy May Marlene

Movie review by S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Martha Marcy May Marlene Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 17+

Disquieting indie drama reveals the cost of cult life.

R 2011 101 minutes

Parents say

age 15+

Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 15+

Based on 1 review

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A Lot or a Little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+
age 13+

Superbly acted, emotionally powerful film

This film is beautifully filmed, and the acting is superb. Elizabeth Olsen is perfect in this role, as is John Hawkes. The main character, Martha, moves into a farm commune that she views her new "family." The commune's leader (Patrick), a man in his late 30's/early 40's, is manipulative but also likable, so it's easy to see how Martha is drawn to him and his group. At the heart of the movie is the issue of trust. At first everything in the group seems idyllic, but as the story unravels, Martha gradually realizes she cannot trust anyone there. Everyone she trusts betrays her and no one is who they seem to be. The 2 most concerning scenes: a rape and a stabbing. Rape: Martha is drugged by the other female members and raped by Patrick. The scene is sick and disturbing, but there's no nudity. Still, it's enough suggestive enough to be inappropriate for younger kids. Stabbing: The group is robbing a house and they are confronted by the owner. A tense conversation ensues, and then one of the group members sneaks up behind the owner and stabs him violently. After fleeing the scene, the group cleans up and Patrick tries to convince Martha that "death is beautiful." The stabbing (and Martha's realization about the group's belief system) is what ultimately causes Martha to run away. The psychological trauma is much more pronounced than anything else. Discussions about trust, empathy, and being true to what you believe can definitely follow watching this film. It is a quality film, but parents should be there to watch it with younger teens. My son, age 14 saw this and liked it a lot. We discussed the whole idea of what a cult is and why Martha would be drawn to it. Note: The word "cult" is never mentioned in the film, and the group is more of a commune than a cult.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex

Movie Details

Our Editors Recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate