For most Sally Hawkins is an acquired taste, whilst some find performances a little on the niggling side, others find her a quiet, yet unassuming character actress who rolls effortlessly into any part she is given adding her own touch of quirky likability, her latest, Maudie is exactly like its lead.
Whilst a biographical picture on the Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, who suffered from arthritis for most of her life, it’s not just a delicate character study of a woman who was head strong and fiercely independent despite those around her, but one of a turbulent yet tender love story between herself and her husband, Everett Lewis, from marriage of convenience to quietly supportive loyalty and hidden signs of affection from a silent heart, just like the way Maud slowly creeps into the heart of Everett, Maudie will gently wrap a warm blanket around your soul.
Set in 1930’s Nova Scotia, Maud (Sally Hawkins) finds herself cast off by her brother to her aunts after he sells the family home. Maud finds herself feeling very much like a prisoner, always told she can’t look after herself due to her illness and her past misdemeanours. All she craves for is some fun and adventure. So after a chance encounter in the local store, where the inarticulate Fish peddler Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) posts an ad for a cleaning lady she sees her chance to make a life all of her own.
Taking Maud on as a live-in cleaner, Everett, who switches his moods more often than his underpants, treats her with nothing but disdain and disrespect. His house, on the outskirts of the town, is a small and shabby place, hardly big enough to swing a cat the pair has to awkwardly share a bed which leads to even more awkward situations. With the pair now married, by day, Everett is out working while Maud is left to take care of the house with one thing bringing her joy, painting when her chores are done for the day. When not painting the walls with a quirky flower or two she takes to painting small canvases and cards, which start to get the attention of a wealthy New York woman taking her holidays in the town which leads to an extra income and fame for the ever shrinking frame of Maud.
Director Aisling Walsh’s tempo never shifts from beginning to end, even with a twist or two thrown into the pot; it stays at a bubbling simmer. Walsh builds a quaint picture of the artist and the subtle yet frosty love the couple share. Everett’s attitude towards his wife’s art throughout their time together, he doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about but even though he doesn’t show it, he silently comes to respect not only her work but the woman who sticks by him through the gloom and his outbursts, culminating in a tender and heart-wrenching finale.
Hawkins and Hawke effortlessly give respectful life to an unlikely couple which could have easily failed with lesser actors. Whilst not a picture for the masses, Maudie is a delicate flower which blossoms through the gloom with vibrant quirkiness against all odds.
Maudie is in cinemas August 4th
DIRECTOR: Aisling Walsh
STARS: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke
RUNTIME: 115 Mins