Watching “Martha Marcy May Marlene” at Cannes back in May, I was stopped dead by a musical number for John Hawkes midway through the film: the eerie, melancholy acoustic track “Marcy’s Song,” in which his cult-leader character and Elizabeth Olsen’s fresh-faced inductee appear to forge a wary spiritual connection. It’s a song that, lovely in any context, distils the film’s mood so effectively that I remember thinking, “If this is an original track, the Best Original Song race is over.”
Of course, if I were more au fait with the American folk scene, I’d have known that the song was in fact originally written and performed by the late Jackson C. Frank; as the film’s director, Sean Durkin, explained to me in an interview last week, he stumbled upon the song while searching for suitable tracks featuring the titular names. Good spot: original or otherwise, it makes for one of the year’s most arresting musical moments, all the more effective for the fact that Oscar-nominated actor (and sometime musician) Hawkes performed it himself.
Anyway, Fox Searchlight has released a new video of this beautiful version. I recommend checking it out after the jump.