I truly wish that this creative little cinematic masterpiece could follow The Big Sick and find a wider release.
Every year a small, intimate gem hits the theaters in a limited release that proves to be a creative, endearing experience. This year Maudie holds that distinction. Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke combine their considerable talents with performances that you never would have expected.
Based on a true story and taking place in Newfoundland in the early 1950s, Ms. Hawkins plays Maude, a young woman with a severe case of arthritis that makes it difficult for her to do many things, including walking. Unable to work and being cared for by her Aunt Ida (Gabrielle Rose), she is suddenly left on her own when her brother abandons his financial support of her. In the process, she discovers a strange ad on a bulletin board in a local store calling for a housekeeper. She responds and a new world is about to unfold.
Mr. Hawke plays Everett Lewis, a hard-nosed, humorless man who supports himself with various jobs. Though he hires Maude, he treats her so callously that you quickly despise Hawke’s character.
However, it was at this moment that the film elevates itself to a level that is both gorgeous and phenomenally captivating. Maude starts to display artistic talent, and her quaint paintings of nature and its inhabitants soon captures the attention of Sandra (Carie Matchett), a New Yorker who quickly recognizes Maude’s talent. Many begin to purchase her paintings, which included Vice President Nixon.
But the beauty of this film transcends expectations as you watch the relationship of Maude and Everett develop. Though Everett has a hard time simply being a nice guy, the two of them gradually fall in love, marry and pursue a simple life in a small home near the town of St. Johns.
What makes this a fantastic film revolves around Director Aisling Walsh’s ability to tell a story full of laughter and heartbreak. There is a moment in Maude’s past that is emotionally crushing and it was profoundly painful to watch her arthritis worsen.
You have to respect Mr. Hawke’s courage in taking on this difficult role, and he once again displays his talents as previously seen in a wide range of films which includes my favorites Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013). In addition, don’t forget that he was the star in the original The Purge (2013), a film that has gained traction with sequels over the years.
But it is the performance of the dazzling Sally Hawkins that will win your heart. Though she was nominated for an Oscar for her fabulous turn in Blue Jasmine (2013), you can’t ignore her performance in a wide range of films which include Made in Dagenham (2010), Never Let Me Go (2010), Layer Cake (2000) and Vera Drake (2004). Beautiful and appealing in a non-traditional way, she wraps herself up in roles that have a significance seldom accomplished by any other actress.
Maudie also has a wonderful musical score, and I’ve got to admit that I watched all the credits because I didn’t want to leave the theater with tears running down my cheeks. Keep this movie on your radar screen and prepare for emotional twists and turns that you seldom experience in or outside of a movie theater.