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NYFF: Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

NYFF: Sean Durkin's "Martha Marcy May Marlene"

Like Jeff Nichols’s Take Shelter—its only real rival for the title of Fall’s Best American Film—Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene concludes on a shot that’s either totally declarative or sneakily ambiguous. In both cases, it’s up to the viewer to decide whether the filmmaker has placed all of his cards on the table or is still holding a couple close to the vest. The comparisons between the two films don’t end there, either. While largely dissimilar in terms of style and subject matter, Take Shelter and Martha Marcy May Marlene are movies that warily examine gender roles—flipped mirror images of characters looking for a way out to find themselves ever more tightly constricted. Read Adam Nayman’s review of Martha Marcy May Marlene.

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