Emotions are stirred up in this biopic film as Hawkins delivers an outstanding performance
Vulnerability often leads people to seek help from others, but what few realize is that help can also come from within the self through the making of art. Art has the power to expand one’s abilities beyond those given by nature, compensating for a certain innate weakness of mind or body. In Maudie (2017), directed by Aisling Walsh and written by Sherry White, the colorful, vibrant paintings of folk artist Maud Lewis transcend her natural physical limitations to find a place in the viewer’s heart.
Sally Hawkins gives life to Maud Lewis, a self-taught, Canadian painter with rheumatoid arthritis, struggling to prove herself capable despite her crippling appearance. When Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke), a fish peddler, decides to find a woman to help him with the housework, he meets Maud. She moves in to work for Everett, whose toxic masculinity makes it hard to understand the attraction Maud soon develops for him.
Emotions are stirred up in this biopic film as Hawkins delivers an outstanding performance as Maud. The actress manages to portray the troubled physical limitations of her character, while showing a glittery charismatic side of Maud’s personality, whose life’s surroundings are not so bright and colorful as the life she portrays in her paintings. We should not be surprised if Sally Hawkins, who was recently nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress, gets nominated for best actress next year for her role in Maudie; Hawkins’ transformation into Maud will not go unnoticed.
Ethan Hawke’s performance also causes an impression, for we find it hard to sympathize with his character, an abusive Everett. “Let me tell you how it is around here,” Everett says to Maud after she starts living with him. “There’s me, them dogs, them chickens, then you.” But, Everett’s traditional views soon collapse as he finds himself sweeping the front porch while Maud slowly starts selling her paintings and becomes the provider.
The cinematography in the story immerses the viewer into Maud’s artistic solitude. The frame-within-a-frame shots constantly puts Maud looking from behind windows, which adds a loneliness in the already lonely rural environment. Yet, the windows present life already framed right in front of her, just expecting to be painted. The eyes might be the windows for the soul, but in Maud’s creative process the windows are the ones serving as eyes for life.
In Maudie, we find the inspiring story of a woman whose limitations never prevented her from comprehending how beautiful life can be. You might not know about Maud’s work or history, but you will most likely walk away from the movie theater idolizing a new artist. Maudie may become one of the most touching movies you might see this year. Just be sure to bring your own tissues because you may eventually drop a few tears – or just grab the closest napkin on the Art House’s bar.
Director: Aisling Walsh
Screenplay: Sherry White
Genre: Drama film/Romance
Running Time: 1h 55m