Rated PG-13

115 Minutes

Released June 16

 

Maudie is a symphonic tale about a unique and wonderful life of primitive artist Maude Dowley Lewis (1903-1970) who painted brightly colored scenes of her native Novia Scotia on cards, walls, boards, paper and tin. She became celebrated during her lifetime in spite of living in a tiny one-room house in a difficult to reach rural area, with her husband Everett Lewis, a gruff, reclusive fish vendor.

This film was in development for thirteen years. Irish filmmaker Aisling Walsh was sent the screenplay by Canadian actress/writer Sherry White and committed to making the film after reading only part of the script. The filmmakers recreated Maud and Everett’s ten-foot by twelve-foot house in Newfoundland. It was filmed in six weeks in the fall of 2015 and at the end of January 2016, a co-production of Ireland and Canada. The sound track is exquisite and incorporates silence into the composition beautifully.

Performances by Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke are incredible. These two broken characters have just the right balance to be one another’s foils, instigators, challengers, muses and companions. Walsh made the decision not to emphasize Maud’s crippling rheumatoid arthritis as it did not define her personality in reality.

Hawkins’ performance as “Maud” is one of the most realistic I’ve ever seen. a role with monumental challenges. The actress physically embodies a character of changing ages, in her face and in her body language, and also presents the changing physical “landscape” of Maud’s ever-worsening condition. Note that Hawkins paints as a hobby, and once she had accepted the role she worked on imitating Maud’s style. She portrays Maud as having an incredible strength of will and an indefatigable sense of humor.

Ethan Hawke turns in one of his best performances as the angry, lonely fish seller who hires Maud as his housekeeper and finds instead a lifelong companion. Scenes of him pushing Maud into town in a wheelbarrow are touching. Hawke accepted the role partly due to his fondness for and understanding of Novia Scotia, where he owns property.

Maud’s actual fully restored house is on display in Halifax at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. It was saved by a group of citizens over the course of a 25-year struggle. The movie has helped to continue the resurgence of interest in Maud’s work. You can see from her work that the real Maud Lewis had an innate sense of the emotional impact of colors, shapes and balance in an image.

Maudie is a beautiful and unlikely love story of a mismatched couple and their common reverence for their harsh yet magnificent environment. You will understand after seeing this movie that Maudie sees her front window as a frame for the whole picture of life.

 

 

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com

 

 

 

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