By Caryn James | James on Screens October 19, 2011 at 12:45PM
In Martha Marcy May Marlene, the names say a lot. Elizabeth Olsen plays Martha, a young woman who is taken into a cult-like commune where she is renamed Marcy May by its eerily comforting yet sinister leader, Patrick (and what’s his real name?) played by John Hawkes. Writer-director Sean Durkin’s film soared out of Sundance partly on the strength of their harrowing performances. (Here are my separate interviews with Hugh Dancy, who gives his own magnetic performance in the film, and with Durkin.)
Olsen - who was greeted with countless headlines saying she’s more than the Olsen twins’ little sister - is thoroughly believable as the title character, who escapes to her sister’s upscale summer house where she begins to unravel and we see the commune in flashbacks. Hawkes, so brilliant at playing nasties in films like Winter’s Bone, adds a different twist with the seductive Patrick.
In this joint interview they talk about their off-screen dynamic, Martha’s backstory, and how to make a crazed cult leader convincing.
Video edited by TAYLOR LEVY.