Epistemartha, Epistemarcy, Epistemay, Epistemology

What did you think of that discomforting final moment in Martha Marcy May Marlene?

Michael Leary is talking about it at Filmwell… 

Some critics and audiences have had difficulty with the indeterminate ending of Martha Marcy May Marlene, which slips from the screen in a moment of paranoia that provides no conventional closure for Martha’s (or Marlene’s?) plight. But this misses the concrete focus of the film on the way experiences of a religious community can have a dramatic effect on not just our body-consciousness, but even our physical responses to various memories and confrontations. The almost dreamlike note on which the film ends evokes the epistemological dismay that occurs when our theoretical labels for religious communities and experiences begin slipping. (Which is not an experience limited to people trying to exit fringe religious communities. This dismay is – in essence – the heart of any religious experience.) This is where Durkin’s film excels…

My own review of the film was published at Image.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.


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