Screen Entertainment

Maudie: a woman and her curmudgeon

Canadian artist Maud Lewis may be well known to some but not others.

However, if there's any justice, Sally Hawkins' portrayal of the cowed artist should see Maudie garner wider praise and Oscar nominations when the time is right.

Hawkins is Lewis, who starts the film cowed and knotted as she clasps desperately at a paint brush with ageing limbs. Rattled by her brother's insistence on selling the familial house, Maudie heads out to get a job after seeing an advert placed by Ethan Hawke's gruff and brutish Everett, a loner who works at the orphanage but has no tolerance for waifs outside of those walls.

Inevitably Maudie starts working there and the relationship develops. But as Maud discovers her own voice, the love story takes another twist.

Anchored in a stunning turn from Hawkins who imbues the physicality of Lewis with an underplaying and underpinning of her condition rather than overly relying on it a la Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, Maudie is a slow, at times, sedate examination of the lives and love of two people.

Hawke's Everett may be a little impenetrable at times, but it's in the subtleties of the relationship that Maudie grows to life. Taylor uses some small touches to show the shift in between the pair, and throws in a touch of tender humour as well to reverse the roles.

Less successful is the passing of time, which is marked in the usual ways but feels muddled as their lives go on, leaving the viewer uncertain of the world and time zone they inhabit. Granted, their simple meagre existence settles them outside of such concerns and the spotlight of the story is purely on them, but odd touches from Taylor don't help add to the timelessness of a story, and merely do more to mark it out.

Ultimately, Maudie is a portrait of a woman and her curmudgeon; it's blessed by a distinctly human and subtle turn from its leading lady, and if there's any justice come awards season will be rightly recognised so.

Maudie
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke
Director: Aisling Taylor
Classification: PG
Running time: 116 minutes

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