Verge Reviews: Maudie

Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke star in this beautifully made film, based on the true story of folk artist Maud Lewis and her husband Everett.

One of the best parts of my job is getting the chance to see so many films. From blockbusters to documentaries and in the case of Maudie, a good old fashioned biographical romantic drama. Maudie is based on the heartwarming true story of the relationship between folk artist Maud Dowley (Sally Hawkins) and her hardened, orphan husband Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke). Despite her crippling arthritis, Maud is a passionate and talented artist who is desperate to escape her overly protective aunt and money-chasing brother. One day, whilst out shopping she overhears Everett’s request for a housekeeper and she jumps at the chance to apply for the job. When she finally makes her way to Everett’s house to state her case, he immediately dismisses her on account of her disabilities but reluctantly takes on Maud to do the chores and housework, the only problem is that she’s a terrible housekeeper. After trying Everett’s patience too many times, he becomes violent towards her and it looks like it’s the end of the road for Maud, until one day, she decides to paint his house. What follows is a charming and heartwarming tale of love, rejection and forgiveness as Maud’s paintings get national attention and brings out a new side in both of them.

The performances from Hawkins and Hawke are wonderful, with both of them effortlessly carrying the whole weight of the film and the story. The physical performance of Hawkins as Maud in particular is absolutely superb, you wince when you see her reach for the paintbrush with her arthritic hands and want to carry her when you see her hunched over, slowly walking for miles and miles. Her frailty is such a contrast to Hawke’s gruff and intimidating portrayal of Everett. After a very brutal introduction he does soften towards the end of the film, his eventual show of love for Maud does shine through, especially in the emotional hospital scenes. There is also a lovely performance from Kari Matchett as Sandra, a well of New Yorker who buys Maud’s work and encourages her to continue her painting. There are a couple of scenes between Maud and Sandra that will put a smile on your face as Maud finally finds someone who believes in her.

Maudie is set and filmed in Nova Scotia, Canada, where Maud and Everett lived and the former painted. The scenery is quiet, picturesque and captured perfectly by Director Aisling Walsh. Walsh delivers a touching and heartwarming film with some exceptional performances and really nurtures the emotional scenes without overdoing them. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the relationship between Maud and her brother explored because as the film goes on, it becomes clear that he has made a lot of decisions that have had a huge effect on her and have shaped her whole outlook on life. Although Maudie has a fairly slow start and despite it being a story that is based on essentially two loners, there are some moments of comedy that give the film a genuine feel of an actual relationship. The scene where Maud embarrasses Everett’s masculinity by killing a chicken for his dinner and the numerous times she answers back to him really does break up the intensity which prevents Maudie from having a very sad and similar feel to a lot of other romantic dramas.

Maudie then, is a genuine treat for cinema lovers. It’s so refreshing to see a film that is beautifully shot, acted and told. The story of Maud Lewis is certainly one that should be told and Aisling Walsh has told it perfectly.

Rating: 4/5
Maudie is released through Sony Pictures Releasing (UK) and is in cinemas on Friday 4th August.
Watch the trailer here