Maudie, rated PG-13
This film features some strong acting performances. It is newly available on video and based on the true-life story of Maud Lewis, one of the most beloved folk artists of 20th century Canada.
It opens in the late 1930’s and is set in Marshalltown in rural Nova Scotia, a beautiful quaint little town (the film was actually partially shot in Ireland and other parts of Canada). The film is visually stunning as we see the seasons change thanks to the cinematography work of Guy Godfree.
Maud Dowley, played by Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, stemming from childhood rheumatic fever. As the film opens Maud is living with her Aunt Ida (Gabrielle Rose). Maud’s brother Charles (Zachery Bennett) is paying Ida to look after Maud. He tells Maud that she is not coming home. As a matter of fact, there is no home to go to, as he has sold the family home. Maud is devastated. Charles then leaves, saying good-bye to Maud, for what appears to be the last time.
We then see Maud, who uncomfortably walks with a limp and with difficulty, sneak out of Ida’s home late at night to go a local club – to listen to music, drink beer and smoke. Ida refers to something that has happened to her in the past; we eventually find out that Maud once had a baby out of wedlock. At the time, Maud was told that the baby was badly deformed and died while she was asleep.
While in the local dry goods store, Maud hears Everette Lewis, a crusty fish peddler played by four-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke, indicate that he is looking for a live-in house maid. Maud decides to make the long walk out to Lewis’ small home, which has no plumbing or electricity, to apply for the position which pays 25 cents a week plus room and board. This begins the uncomfortable relationship between Maud and Everette, who can be verbally and physically cruel to her (once telling her that his dogs and chickens were higher in the pecking order than she was). He usually communicates via grunts.
We eventually see Maud cleaning up and making changes in the sparse one-bedroom home, basically a shack with a bed in an upstairs attic. She starts by painting birds on the walls. She makes dinner for the hard to like Lewis and eventually shares his bed with him. When he tries to have sex with her, she states that they should get married, which they eventually do in a local church. We then see these two people, both orphans and societal outcasts, slowly begin to find comfort in their relationship together.
Maud’s paintings come to the attention of one of Everett’s customers, the likeable and kind Sandra (Kari Matchett), a rich neighbor from New York, who is the first to want to buy Maud’s paintings and small cards. The word eventually spreads about Maud’s paintings, in large part due to a magazine article, and she even receives a request for a painting from then Vice President Richard Nixon. We later see many coming out to the small home to buy her paintings, including brother Charles.
The film is directed by Aisling Walsh and written by Sherry White. Hawkins is incredible in her portrayal of Maud, doing an amazing job portraying the physical challenges of her character, which only increase as she ages. Hawke portrays Lewis well, as a man who is much harder for us to like and who finds it hard to show his love for Maud.
The film is rated PG-13 for brief scenes of sexuality (nothing explicit is shown). In addition, God’s name is abused once.
Check out this well-acted and sweet film about the unconventional love story of Maud and Everette Lewis. You won’t regret it.