With so many films made and released it would be a monumental task to even try and watch them all. There are films though that slip through the cracks and when viewed can offer so much through its light hearted and emotional story that I believe are the hidden gems of the cinema world. After viewing it you can’t help but feel different than when you first went in. When characters on screen are so pure and innocent that can only transcend through the screen and affect the viewer.
Aisling Walsh’s film Maudie is a true story about Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis who was born with rheumatoid arthritis affecting her joints and back. In wanting to distance herself from her existing family of aunt and brother she sought out work as a live in housekeeper. Maud Lewis began painting Christmas cards and selling those. Through encouragement from her husband Everett, Maud began painting throughout the house and on spare wood panels and cookie sheets. People took notice of her artwork and she became a local celebrity; even providing paintings for President Nixon. After the passing of both Maud and Everett their house was purchased by the Province of Nova Scotia and turned over to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia where they restored the house and installed it as a permanent fixture in their Maud Lewis exhibit.
The story of Maud alone is one that can grab any viewer but it is the performance from Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go-Lucky) that gives the film its power. Hawkins embodies that sweet, innocent essence of Maud and flawlessly portrays it on screen for us to enjoy. Her quirky attitude and quick one liners make her an adorable presence on screen and the pairing with her husband Everett, played by Ethan Hawke (Explorers, Training Day, The Magnificent Seven), gives the film a certain balance. Hawke’s portrayal of Everett leaves little to admire at first. His coarse voice and abrasive attitude leave little to desire especially when he belittles and hits Maud. Leave it to Maud though to slowly chip away at that rough exterior and reveal a gentle hearted person that could love and support her.
The chemistry between Hawkins and Hawke is so strong that it makes the emotional journey between Everett and Maud all that much more powerful. These two people who the world had pretty much pushed aside made a life for themselves in Nova Scotia where they were miles away from anyone. Through their love for each other and their pursuit to make each other happy the world knew who they were and took notice. It is a compassionate story of a woman who regardless of what limits were placed on her body did all she could to accomplish a life for herself, that made her happy. Maudie is a charming film with strong performances that will pull at the heart strings but in the end leave you with a sense of innocence that is the magic of film.
3 out of 5