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 departed the Patheos network in order to escape click-bait advertisements that were offending him and his readers. He will re-launch Looking Closer at lookingcloser.org soon. He is the author of The Auralia Thread, a four-volume fantasy series that begins with Auralia's Colors, and a memoir of "dangerous moviegoing" called Through a Screen Darkly. He teaches creative writing and film studies; speaks internationally about art and faith; served as Writer-in-Residence at Covenant College; and is employed by Seattle Pacific University as a project manager, copyeditor, and writer.