Maudie is a delightful film, a real-life story about a Canadian folk artist who refused to be daunted by her crippled body and harsh familylife.
Maud Dawley (a magnificent Sally Hawkins), was born in 1903 in the backwoods of Nova Scotia. As a child she developed painful rheumatoid arthritis which left her with twisted hands and feet and an ungainly stoop.
After her parents’ death her callous brother sells the family home and dumps Maud on their cranky aunt, who makes it clear she is an unwelcome burden.
Desperate to escape, Maud answers an advertisement for a live-in housekeeper for a taciturn bachelor, Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke), a rough-spoken loner who lives in a tiny two-room shack and peddles fish for a living.
Lewis doubts that she can do the work but reluctantly gives her a trial. He makes the pecking order clear: He comes first, followed by the dogs, the chickens and then Maud.
He is rude, insensitive, even brutal, but she sticks it out uncomplainingly. Gradually the two loners develop some sort of understanding and eventually they get married.
A part-used can of green house-paint inspires Maud to start decorating Lewis’s shabby cottage. Surprisingly, he doesn’t object, even when she covers the walls, cupboards, windows, stove – every available surface – with her simple, brightly coloured flowers, animals and rural scenes.
As her reputation grows, she starts selling her work: 50 cents for a postcard, $5 for a painting. Today her work sells for tens of thousands of dollars, and the little cottage, now restored, has a prized place in the Nova Scotia Art Gallery.
It’s a simple story, but director Aisling Walsh, working from a screenplay by Sherry White, has created a film as appealing as Maud’s sunny paintings.
Sally Hawkins’ uncannily accurate portrayal of the crippled artist with the happy outlook is an Oscar-worthy performance. Along with Maud’s curled fingers, stooped shoulders and clumsy gait, Hawkins captures her sweet smile, gentle spirit and ability to see beauty in the most daunting circumstances.
Ethan Hawke is outstanding as the crude, socially inept fish peddler with a surprising streak of sensitivity.
Also memorable is the work of cinematographer Guy Godfree in bringing to the screen the timeless charm of rural Nova Scotia.
Celebrate the very best of folk art and music at the opening night of Maudie at The Windsor Cinema, Thursday 24 August.
Join the fun from 6pm for prize giveaways and live music from folk singer Tania Martin – performed against the backdrop of an on-screen display of Lewis’s artwork courtesy of The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia – ahead of the 6.30pm screening.
Maudie opens on Thursday, 24 August, at Cinema Paradiso, Luna On SX and the Windsor Cinema.
Watch the trailer…