Maudie: a review

After hearing about this film from friends for what seemed like months, I finally had a chance to catch it as a rental over the holidays. This is a quiet bio-pic about celebrated Canadian folk-artist Maud Lewis (1903-1970). Her tiny home and studio is part of the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

This film is a love story about 2 people who find each other as they exist on the fringes of society. The beauty of this film is in the performances of the 2 leads. Sally Hawkins is stunning as the titular character. She conveys Maud’s physical limitations, as a result of juvenile arthritis, with a convincing subtlety. Her complexity as a woman and an outcast is heartbreakingly real. Ethan Hawke is a favourite of mine and not just because I have a fondness for actors who embrace their crooked teeth. He is an actor whose versatility never fails to surprise me. His portrayal as Maud’s husband Everett is a revelatory departure from his more recent roles. Beneath his gruff manner, we watch his love and appreciation for Maud blossom.



There is a lot to enjoy in this film for anyone who is a fan of character driven drama. The cinematic glimpses of small town Atlantic Canada are breathtaking and I was impressed at how the actors spoke with pretty good regional accents. Despite shedding a few tears, there is a lot of  joy in this film, particularly in Maud’s art and spirit. It is a simple story about 2 people; neither with much to call their own, who learn to enrich each other as they share their lives. That Maud Lewis could overcome her limitations to create beautiful and beloved folk art is magnificent Canadian success story. Kudos to writer Sherry White and director Aisling Walsh on making this story available to a worldwide audience.

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