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article imageReview: ‘Maudie’ paints a complex but fulfilling picture Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 15, 2017 in Entertainment
‘Maudie’ features exceptional performances by Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke in this moving story of a real-life artist with small-town charm.
There have been a number of movies based around characters who are underestimated or overlooked because they have a particular mental or physical challenge; frequently the person is faking a debility specifically for this purpose, but other times it’s real even though their abilities have been misjudged. More often than not, it’s outsiders who recognize their aptitude for something before those closest to them even notice. In Maudie, the main character’s talents are acknowledged by strangers and most of the world before her own family accepts she has any.
To Maud’s (Sally Hawkins) family, she is a burden. In spite of being a capable adult, she’s forced to live with her aunt after her mother dies and her brother sees to the estate without a moment of consideration for Maud’s needs. Tired of being supervised and treated as inferior, she answers an ad at the grocery store for a live-in housekeeper. Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) is a fish peddler and a bit of a hermit with a hard exterior, so he’s not about to give Maud any special treatment if she chooses to work for him. She moves into his one-room house and after a rocky start, they’re eventually married. However, in between her chores, Maud continues to paint brightly-coloured representations of the world as she sees it — and people begin to notice. First selling hand-painted Christmas cards for 25 cents each, she eventually starts selling larger pieces until it becomes a full-time occupation.
Maud Lewis is a renowned folk artist from Nova Scotia whose paintings generally consisted of what she could see out a window: meadows and snow, birds and flowers, butterflies and Everett. She used the paint straight from the tube and never mixed them, so her colours were bold and vibrant. And when she didn’t have a traditional canvas, she painted on anything she could find from old cookie sheets to discarded pine board, as well as the windows and walls of her new home.
Once Maud took control of her life, she found it could be very rewarding. She stands up to her aunt and brother on more than one occasion, only to discover they betrayed her trust in a way that could never be forgiven. Nonetheless, she finds her independence with Everett as well as happiness because he doesn’t treat her as less than himself or anyone else. And even though he’s a hard man, he demonstrates his love and support for Maud in subtler ways, such as doing more of the housework when her artwork gains popularity. Unfortunately her arthritis eventually made it very difficult to paint, though that never really stopped her.
In addition to chronicling the life and hardships of a renowned artist, the movie is also a touching love story about two of society’s outcasts who found each other and made each other better for it. Hawkins and Hawke are outstanding in their roles, convincingly portraying their respectively difficult characters as well as the odd chemistry they share. Both actors turn in career-highlight performances, even though this film will likely fly under the radar.
Director: Aisling Walsh
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Sally Hawkins and Kari Matchett
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