Film Fridays is a project initiated by Darren from over at The Arty Plantsman and me.
(By now you should know the drill so I’m not going to copy the intro text this time, and if you don’t know what this is all about just click here.)
I count today’s film as a lucky find that I made in my local library, instantly drawn to it by the cover design and the mention of two of my favorite actors.
I only watched it the day before yesterday for the first time, so it hadn’t been on my list of favorite films until then. And because my memory is still fresh with the story and images I decided to write about it now instead of some time later (gotta have to bend the rules sometimes, you know?).
Maudie is a 2016 biographical drama film directed by Aisling Walsh and starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.
In short it’s an inspiring portrait of the resilience of a crippled but immensely creative woman, namely Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis.
The filmmakers chose not to emphasize Lewis’ physical conditions, as they said these did not form the entirety of her identity.
Maud (Sally Hawkins) lives with her bossy and judgmental Aunt Ida (Gabrielle Rose) in the seacoast town of Digby in Nova Scotia. Crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, bent over, and bullied for her physical deformities, she is taken aback when her brother Charles (Zachary Bennett) arrives with news that he has sold their family home. She protests by saying, “I’ll look after it,” and he responds, “You can’t even look after yourself.”
Maud uses this setback to boldly embark on a new life. She takes a job as a live-in housekeeper for Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke), a cranky, oftentimes cruel, and violent fish peddler. He lives in a small house on the edge of town and is known as an eccentric and loner. At first, he is unhappy with her presence, constantly criticizing her cooking and cleaning, and even hitting her out of frustration.
She responds by expressing herself creatively. She begins to decorate the walls, doors, and windows of his home with her bright and childlike paintings of birds, blooming flowers, perky cats, and landscapes. This life is enough for her. She explains that just by looking out the window, she can see “the whole of life already framed.”
Eventually we watch as these two social outcasts inch their way toward a tender and touching business and personal relationship.
The film was shot in Newfoundland and Labrador, requiring a re-creation of Lewis’s famously small house (10 ft × 12 ft /3.0 m × 3.7 m).
In a way, the landscape feels as much a part of the cast as the actors. It’s wild, beautiful and sometimes very harsh.
Sally Hawkins is – as always – absolutely breathtaking in this film, and simply outshines all her co-stars.
Originally Sean Bean was cast for the role as Everett Lewis, but left the project due to other commitments, and was replaced by Ethan Hawke. Which in the end I think was lucky because even though I really love Sean Bean, I think Ethan Hawke was the better choice for this role.
This film has touched my heart and soul and I’m not ashamed to admit that it also had me silently crying at times.
It’s one of those rare films that will stay with you long after you’ve watched it.