Review: Maudie

Sally Hawkins in Maudie

Maudie is a biopic about Maud Lewis, a Canadian folk artist. Sally Hawkins stars brilliantly as the amazing painter, a woman afflicted with severe rheumatoid arthritis. 

It’s a simple story. Maudie is rejected by her family. Her brother (Zachary Bennett) sells her home out from under her. Her aunt (Gabrielle Rose) is ashamed of her because she had a child out of wedlock.

Maudie finds her own way by taking a job as a housekeeper for an unpleasant man, Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke). This was the early 20th Century in Digby, Nova Scotia. Everett, I suppose, was a man of his times. He had no idea how to relate to a woman, how to treat a woman, or how to love a woman.

In spite of the fact that she loved something of an asshole, Maudie was happy. She was happy to marry Everett. She was happy to live in the most reduced circumstances poverty could buy. She was happy in spite of the tremendous pain she must have been in.

Give her a paint brush and she was happy. She painted everything. Anything. She began selling her paintings to a woman from New York (Kari Matchett) and then to others as well. She charged $5 for a painting, which seemed a rich sum to her. She never saw any of the money, according to the movie.

Everett took it all. What he did with the money is unknown. He must have bought her paint and brushes. He never did anything to improve the miserable hovel he lived in. He never got a better car. He never gave Maudie anything to make her life easier, with the exception of a screen door.

Aisling Walsh directed Maudie. It was a quiet movie. Maudie painted quietly. Sally Hawkins was fantastic as the artist. She walked and moved as one bent and crippled with arthritis, she spoke quietly but with great humor. Ethan Hawke was stoic and unhelpful as Everett, but managed to convey his love for Maudie by the end. The scenery, the vistas, the surrounding countryside were beautiful and beautifully filmed.

Maudie loved windows. She said they were like paintings already framed. One of my favorite scenes in the film was of Maudie silhouetted against the daylight as she sat framed on her doorstep smoking a cigarette. I also appreciated the shots of tiny Maudie trudging painfully across the vast flatness where she lived.

I enjoyed the film. Maud Lewis was an admirable human being. Against great odds she produced joyous, riotously colorful portraits of the world around her. I’m glad to know more about her.

According to Wikipedia, Maud died on July 30, 1970 at the age of 67. In the later years of her life she spent quite a bit of time in and out of the hospital. In 1984 the house she lived in with Everett was sold to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia where it was restored and became part of the Maud Lewis exhibit.

2 thoughts on “Review: Maudie”

    1. When Sally Hawkins is shown painting, it’s similar to Maud’s work. She tried to copy her style. And you see some of her actual work at the end credits. The best way to see Maud’s real work is to search Google images for Maud Lewis.

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