Maudie

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Aisling Walsh

Starring

Ethan Hawke Kari Matchett Sally Hawkins

Anticipation.

Always a pleasure to see what Sally Hawkins is up to.

Enjoyment.

A big performance at the centre of rather a modest film.

In Retrospect.

A great actor’s showcase, but little more than that.

A fine performance from Sally Hawkins shores up this portrait of a tragic folk artist.

Sally Hawkins brings her A-game to the role of Maud Lewis, a real-life Nova Scotia folk artist whose work gained a certain notoriety after her death in 1970. The actor appears to have built her fragile, jittery performance around the naive paintings that Lewis produced in her dusty roadside shack, where she lived with her abusive husband, Everett (Ethan Hawke).

These canvases containing picturesque landscape scenes, brightly coloured flowers and sickeningly cute animals speak of a woman who sees beauty and vibrancy in the most dismal of circumstances, and Hawkins channels this idea of an artist who stubbornly looks for the best in a situation while very much accepting the grim realities.

Aisling Walsh’s straightforward biopic offers an episodic trawl through Lewis’ secluded life, from the point where she was split from her money-grabbing brother and sent to live with her aunt, to her eventual demise, possibly the result of chronic arthritis. It captures the moment where she realises her love for painting, and celebrates the idea that she continues despite not possessing any conventional gifts.

Also central to the film is the abusive relationship which forms at the centre, with Maud accepting a job as Everett’s live-in maid as a way to get away from her aunt. She suffers the torments of his ritual humiliation and physical assaults because she sees the good, honest man nestled deep down in his heart. Hawke scowls and broods, but such is the portentous tone of the film, his eventual acceptance of Maud as life companion and bread winner comes as a little surprise.

The problem is that Walsh (unlike Lewis) lacks the courage of her artistic convictions and the film amounts to little more than a bland, sentimental life story that’s powered by two strong central performances. The question posed at the end of the film seems to be, why aren’t we casting Sally Hawkins in more movies?

Published 3 Aug 2017

Tags: Aisling Walsh Ethan Hawke Sally Hawkins

Anticipation.

Always a pleasure to see what Sally Hawkins is up to.

Enjoyment.

A big performance at the centre of rather a modest film.

In Retrospect.

A great actor’s showcase, but little more than that.

Read More

Happy-Go-Lucky

By James Bramble

A light-hearted tribute to the carefree, from footloose director Mike Leigh.

review

Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water gets a wondrous first trailer

By Little White Lies

Take a fishy first look at the director’s upcoming Cold War-era fairy tale.

My Cousin Rachel

By David Jenkins

Roger Michell’s plush adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s mystery romance novel fails to leave a lasting impression.

review

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design