Review: Maudie is an Emotional Tour De Force

- -

As Canada celebrates its 150th Birthday in 2017, it will mark another opportunity for Canadians and those around the world alike to explore the rich history and people that have defined the True, North, Strong and Free. With director Aisling Walsh’s touching biopic “Maudie”, the chance to rediscover one of those Canadian greats comes to us in a sentimental and inspiring work of film.

Chronicling the life of Nova Scotian painter Maud Lewis, a simple-minded woman afflicted with degenerative arthritis, Maudie is both saddening and uplifting. But ultimately its triumph lies in its inspiring heroine with a truly beautiful soul. In the 1930s a person like Maud Lewis was mocked and dismissed, even by her own family. She was semi-crippled, socially awkward and innocent, but as is often the case in those rejected by the larger society, she had one of the greatest hearts of all. And of course beyond that a hidden talent for painting the beautiful scenery that makes up Atlantic Canada. As her painted works begin to attract the attention of the greater community and the media, an unexpected spotlight was shed on this tiny woman, her tiny abode, and an immense spirit.

The film is highlighted by a wonderfully moving performance by Sally Hawkins, who delivers what is deservedly an Oscar-worthy lead. Unfortunately, due to the timing of this film’s release (not even near Oscar season), Hawkins will most likely not get that recognition, but it is right to acknowledge that her portrayal is of Academy Awards-caliber. Similar to Eddie Redmayne’s physical transformation for his role in The Theory of Everything, Sally Hawkins too tackles the challenges of bodily deformity in playing Maud. She’s hunched over, with gnarled arthritic hands grasping paintbrushes, walks with a limp and speaks in a hushed tone. It’s an impressive commitment to bringing to the screen the sad reality of Maud Lewis’s condition. But it’s not a completely saddening sight either, for, despite all the physical pain, Hawkins brings wit, humor and dogged determination to the role that allows us to cheer Maud on and find unexpected inspiration. As Maud’s husband Everett Lewis, Ethan Hawke carves out a solid supporting turn.

The real life Maud Lewis with one of her paintings.

The pace of the movie is occasionally slow and there are a number of scenes that feel like they are dragging on; for viewers accustomed to faster-paced dialogue and action, portions of “Maudie” may bore but the scenes are never consecutive or frequent enough to really hamper the overall flow of the film. Interspersed throughout the movie are some beautiful shots of the Nova Scotia terrain, the community of Marshalltown, and iconic summer and winter landscapes. These scenes also provide a reminder of the rural setting Maud lived in. In many ways, the isolation of her surroundings also reflected the isolation she experienced for many years. How just then, that her exposure to the world came for the same reasons she was isolated in the first place: her unique circumstances and indomitable drive.

Maudie is an emotional movie that celebrates a great Canadian artist in a respectful and inspiring fashion. Led by a strong central performance by Sally Hawkins, the tale of this greatly talented, but afflicted woman works as a good biography, but on a greater scale it shines as a story of the hidden treasures of the human soul. For Canadians, and indeed anyone,  it will be rewarding to discover or perhaps rediscover the talents and struggles of one of the country’s most inspiring figures.


Directed by Aisling Walsh

Screenplay by Sherry White

Starring Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke

Michael Vecchio
Michael Vecchiohttp://beforethecyborgs.com
Michael Vecchio is a contributing writer for Before The Cyborgs. A graduate of the University of Alberta, he is a keen follower of events in the world of film, as well as politics and history. You can also hear him podcast about film and politics

FIND US ON

READ MORE

Review: HBO’s Andre The Giant Documentary

Highlighting his greatest triumphs and darkest moments, HBO's Andre The Giant documentary is a fitting tribute to a man larger than life

About Nothing, Yet Everything – Seinfeld At 20

Television sitcoms come and go but it is surprisingly the show about nothing that has held one of the most enduring legacies in pop culture over twenty years since it aired its finale.

Review: Coco is Another Masterpiece From Pixar

Emotionally rewarding and visually stunning, Pixar has another masterpiece on its hands with Coco

Review: Person to Person charms with understated stories of life-like characters.

A New York indie gem, melding wry humor, quiet drama, and thoughtful sentimentality. Person to Person is a thoughtful character study set under a beautiful New York backdrop

Reappraisal: Defending The How I Met Your Mother Finale

A Reminder That Life Is Not A Fairytale Even On TV

Related Articles

Worldmakers – A Musical Trifecta

A trifecta of musical selections this month for you to discover including Pilar Zeta, The Caretaker and Cosmo Sheldrake

5 Questions We Have About The Joker Origin Movie

With a Joker centric standalone movie in the works that has enlisted the likes of Martin Scorsese, Here are 5 Burning Questions we have regarding the film

Reappraising The Passion Of The Christ

The highly controversial Mel Gibson film surrounding the death of Jesus Christ drew the ire of audiences upon release but is it time to reappraise the film for what it was able to do in spite of its faults?