My Blog__ Dana, Darcy, Day, Darlene

October 24, 2011 | By

You're my favourite, and I won't lose you.

While it may seem like all I do is go to movies with my female friends and then write sappy shit about them--I actually am quite a busy person without a disposable income. However, last night I saw another movie  and I'm going to write about it again. So judge me, I'm not afraid of you. Just don't do it in my comments feed because I have self harming inclinations when I finish my pill cycle. Just kidding.

I saw Sean Durkin's new festival darling, Martha Marcy May Marlene starring Elizabeth Olsen as a young girl who escapes from a cult. And in all seriousness seeing a film that makes you feel like you are susceptible to the heroine's downfalls can make you very emotional. And I did just finish my pill cycle--not kidding. The cult in Martha Marcy May Marlene uses very little witchcraft, very little religious indoctrination, only a small amount of narcotics.  There was something Marxist about their imposed morality that pandered to my heart in a particular way. The right way to live is communal and self-chosen. It should play on the strengths and beauty that you feel are inherently yours--your organic creativity. As Martha becomes Marcy May she is told she doesn't have to do anything she doesn't want to, but that she will find her place in her new family. Marcy May says the same thing to a new inductee.

Martha serves as an implicit criticism to the glass-house life of Lucy (her sister) and Ted (her sister's husband). She goes to live with them on their beautiful lake house in upstate New York once she runs away from the farm she'd been living on for two years. Ted tells her to get a job, but Martha says there are other ways to live. And the way that she is so not wrong made me want to be at that dinner table, urging her to hold onto that. It's not the cult-farm or the glass house in an indestructible binary, but her grasp on what is possible--in life and in her sense of morality-- is so clouded by her anxiety and paranoia. Lucy says to her, "it's not normal". It's not normal to lay in bed next to members of your family while they fuck. And no, it's not normal to live communally with a group of men and women who are raped repeatedly, whose identities are shifted and tweaked every so slightly.

There is an immediately relatable value to the spectrum of realities presented in the film.  I feel like I have had conversations with family members who do not connect with my chosen field of study--the lawyers in my clan don't get my Marxism kick. The machoistic men don't understand my inclination for queer theory. There are other ways to live--I wanted to explain this in my youth. And I'm not comparing my family to Martha's sister and her husband.  And I am, in no way, comparing my ideals to the sick and disgusting word of Patrick's farm. But I am saying that there was a time when I was submerged in a lifestyle that caused me to withdraw from my family. It involved a sexual relationship with a man and it was totally destructive to me. But the reasons why I held on to that relationship, and the less-than-healthy lifestyle that came along with it, came from a sense that there was another way to live. I got it wrong, but over time I found an alternate route. Not that of my somewhat conservative family / suburban early teenage years. But also not that of my manic depressive, drug using, authority hating, manipulative boyfriend.

I mean, the look on Marcy May's face as Patrick performed that fucking insanely haunting song the day after he raped her for the first time. He says she's just a picture. The song sounds a bit like well respected man. That scene blew me away.

And this isn't supposed to be a love letter to Surkin's character, or to Elizabeth Olsen's performance. Although I commend both.  And maybe this blog is getting a little too "Dana's time on the psychoanalysis couch," but the film had me thinking about what it would take to become wholly enamoured with a cult in this way.  Through a relationship with a man.  The sexual/romantic/paternal bond between Patrick and his women is a hyperbolic expression of any woman who has ever felt like she wanted her professor to be attracted to her. Or any girl who has been held a little too long by an employer. You want to trust and respect them, and you know the sexuality of it is the wrong colour.  And you know the connection is always tainted. And you know you can use your body to retain some kind of power. But whatever connectivity Martha and all the other women on the farm crave from him is something, I think, most girls can relate to.  Now this is some heavy shit--but the film really presents these deep, disgusting, confused, and mistaken parts of ourselves that we never really like to tap into. Which is why I think it was so spectacularly done.

And I don't want to ruin any endings--but in a way I saw the last scene as a testament to the fact that, perhaps, Patrick was being truthful--being real in a certain way, when he said to Marcy May "You're my favourite, and I won't lose you." That's what I took, while my friend was like, um, he obviously killed them all you fucking idiot.  So psychoanalyze me on that one, Freudians.


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