Martha Marcy May Marlene (15)


Dir: Sean Durkin

With: Elizabeth Olson, Sarah Paulson

Running time: 101 minutes

THERE'S a wooziness from the off about this tale of a young woman entering a cult. Don't let your guard drop though, because this is a smart chiller of the first order. Martha (Elizabeth Olson) is a troubled soul who thinks she has found her place in the collection of simple farming types led by ageing dropout Patrick (John Hawkes, outstanding as Teardrop in Winter's Bone, ditto here). This feels like home, like the kind of family she needs, but all is not, as you'd expect, as it seems. Sean Durkin avoids predictability to deliver a tale that keeps you guessing, about Martha and everything else. At times a family drama, at other times a don't-look-now chiller, Durkin's drama is cold-hand-on-the-back-of-the-neck entertainment. Olsen is outstanding, with sterling support from Sarah Paulson as the big sister who tries to help her sibling find some answers.

Man On A Ledge (12A)


Dir: Asger Leth

With: Sam Worthington, Ed Harris, Jamie Bell

THE plotting in Asger Leth's Man on a Ledge is often as precarious as its leading man's standing position but there remains a guilty pleasure in seeing how things unfold in this mostly preposterous thriller. Sam Worthington, inset, heads the cast as a disgraced ex-cop who opts to stand on the ledge of a Manhattan hotel in a bid to clear his name, but whose presence is designed to deflect attention from a heist taking place across the street aimed at getting the evidence to do so.

Jamie Bell is the brother helping out with assistance from an impossibly curvy girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez), Elizabeth Banks the emotional wreck of a police psychologist attempting to talk him down and Ed Harris the real villain of the piece. All stereotypes are delivered intact. But Leth manages to keep a tight grip on the tension early on and is careful not to let the film take itself too seriously, even though he can't ultimately prevent it from plunging into some last act stupidity.

His cast, though, keep it entertaining even if Worthington's accent jumps from American to Australian and back again several times throughout.

Reviewed by Rob Carnevale