I have been a Sally Hawkins fan since she starred in “Happy Go Lucky” (2008). In “Maudie,” Hawkins get an even better chance to demonstrate the mastery of her craft. Hawkins’ performance is far-and-away the best one by a female actor that I have seen this year (so far). She will surely be nominated for an AA, and I will be surprised if another performance this year tops hers.
This film is a true story about one of Canada’s most beloved folk artists, Maude Lewis. Beginning in Nova Scotia in the 1930’s, the film chronicles Maude’s life, her art, and her relationship with Everett (Ethan Hawke). The movie starts out with Maude’s mother’s death. Maude has a serious medical affliction, so, although she is in her 30’s, she had been living with her mother. Since she couldn’t work, she painted, though she remained completely unknown. Shortly after her mother’s death, her brother sells her mother’s house (without her knowledge or consent), so Maude must live with her Aunt Ida (Gabrielle Rose), who is prudish, rigid, and treats her like a child.
Maude decides to try to make it on her own and gets a job as a housekeeper for a hermit fish-peddler, Everett. As played by Hawke, Everett is a schizoid man, walled-off, terrified of intimacy, and with a mean streak to boot! The film is primarily about their relationship, and it’s about as unusual a love story as you’ll ever see. Maude starts painting again and she gets “discovered” by Sandra (Kari Matchett). (One of Maude’s paintings was even bought by Richard Nixon.) The film also reveals how Maude, despite her handicap, makes a happy life for herself via her love of life and art, and her indomitable will.
Aisling Walsh (Director) deserves props and the cinematography (by Guy Godfree) is breath-taking. (The film takes place in Nova Scotia, but it was primarily filmed in Ireland and other parts of Canada.) It has a leisurely pace, but it worked for this film, which was enjoyable throughout. I think it’s a Top 20 film, but not quite AA caliber. It will work fine as a rental, but it’s good enough to see on the BS now.