"Maudie" is the true story of Nova Scotian folk artist Maud Lewis, whose colorful paintings have been increasingly popular in her later years. The oils are far from the most interesting thing about her, though. Sally Hawkins is amazing as Maud, who had rheumatoid arthritis and an "odd sense about her." Ethan Hawke is her (future) husband, also a loner and town oddball, who takes Maud in as a housekeeper. Both are almost unrecognizable as they melt into their respective parts.
Sometimes sad, sometimes touching, sometimes angry - "Maudi" captures the hard road for Maud Lewis as she struggles to win even an ounce of respect from her family and, at the beginning, from Everett. When Maud starts working at Everett's house, they each have a lot of growing to do even to get along with the one other person who needs them. They grow closer, but even their version of "close" is unusual. When Maud's paintings become quite popular, they don't change a thing. They live in the same tiny house without electricity, living on only the bare necessities...but Maud starts painting the walls, and it becomes a work of art itself.
In fact, the movie itself uses very simple scenery, costumes, and dialogue to tell what ends up being a very lovely story. Half of Ethan Hawke's lines are old school Canadian fisherman "grunts," but they say a lot in the context of the film. The couple's house is small and cramped, just like Maud...and we see it come to life as she paints its walls, just like she comes to life as she paints more and more...not becoming stronger physically, but emotionally.
Sally Hawkins gave a very strong performance in "Maudie," but she played almost the same character in "The Shape of Water," for which she earned an Oscar and a Golden Globe nomination. In my opinion, this was a much more transformative role and deserved a stronger nod. Canadian film festival goers loved it, giving it several film festival awards. I hope that some day, US film goers appreciate "Maudie" as much as I do.
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