Martha Marcy May Marlene

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A quiet chiller from Sundance, this ominous low-budget drama survives its forgettable title and an overpraised central performance to plunge its tenterhooks into you. Elizabeth Olsen (bearing a touch of her famous siblings' blankness) plays a free-spirited woman lured by the good vibes of a communal farm. The place turns out to be a hierarchical cult, lorded over by its own Charles Manson (expertly embodied by Winter's Bone's John Hawkes). Running through the forest, our heroine escapes to the safety of her married sister's comfortable home, but finds their domestic rituals equally alienating. The parallels here are fascinating, containing a subtle comment about indoctrination of all kinds.—JR

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New York Film Festival 2011

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