Just another reminder, I am Canadian. Despite this, I still don’t see as many Canadian films as I would like. This film does two things in that it is a Canadian film and dramatizes the life of the famous Nova Scotian painter Maud Lewis.
Synopsis: The reclusive Everett Lewis hires a fragile yet determined woman named Maudie to be his housekeeper. Maudie, bright-eyed but hunched with crippled hands, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family and she also yearns, passionately, to create art. Unexpectedly, Everett finds himself falling in love. Maudie charts Everett’s efforts to protect himself from being hurt, Maudie’s deep and abiding love for this difficult man and her surprising rise to fame as a folk painter. (Metacritic)
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke, and Kari Matchett
Writer: Sherry White
Director: Aisling Walsh
Running Time: 115mins
There have been many films involving characters overcoming adversity but what sets this apart was the endearing quality of Maud Lewis (Hawkins). She was a small, frail, arthritic woman who valued her dependence and wanted to prove people, including her family and brother Charles (Zachary Bennett), wrong. To do so, she ventured out to become the housekeeper of a grumpy fishmonger named Everett Lewis (Hawke).
The two didn’t get along at first because he didn’t quite know how to deal with her disability. He thought her to be useless but she was determined to prove her worth to him as well as prove her worthiness to herself and to a lesser degree, the rest of her family who’ve always doubted her. Their problem was that neither of them had a choice in the matter since Maud was desperate and had nowhere else to go and for Everett, no one else seemed to be interest in applying to his wanted ad. They learned to live together but her personality still managed to get in the way on occasion until a moment of hurt thrust her into painting as a means to cope with her pain. Through her painting, she expressed the way she saw the world through the window of Everett’s tiny house along the Nova Scotia countryside.
Over their time together, the two become very close as Everett gets used to her company. He might not have been the nicest or even the most affectionate with her but she seemed to see a lighter side in him that he might not have been aware of or even wanted to acknowledge. He didn’t quite understand her painting at first and wasn’t sure what to think about it because he was a man but he was still okay with it as long as she left some of his space alone. That didn’t last forever as it was easy to tell how far their relationship was progressing by the amount of painting inside the house. The longer they were together, the more painting there was.
Having them get used to one another was one thing but the film got better once they finally got married. Their relationship changed once Maud started receiving attention for her paintings which were now making money for him. Seeing the opportunity, he gave her more freedom, allowing her to focus more on her painting. The press’ depiction of Everett left him feeling insecure, leading to him leaving her temporarily.
Maud also had a daughter who she believed had died young from being deformed but in reality, she was actually sold when her family didn’t believe that she could have taken care of her. They regretted that decision when they saw how successful she had become. Their reunion, from a distance, was very emotional to watch since she was not over losing her. Once Maud and Everett got older, Maud’s condition began to worsen, leaving her barely able to paint. The problem for Everett was that Maud was more sick than she was leading on. She eventually died but before she passed, she made sure to let Everett know that despite the way he was, she was still loved, another emotional moment.
The best part of the film, without a doubt, was Sally Hawkins’ performance as Maud. She was very likable and Maud was very easy to root for and to invest in emotionally. Her nuanced performance of the physically disabled Maud was compelling to watch, trying to maintain her dependence while trying to prove people wrong. She had great chemistry with Ethan Hawke who was also excellent here. Their relationship was both real and genuine which added to the impact of him losing her briefly and then permanently. He was more of a surly man at first who lightened up after spending time with Maud. He might not have shown it but he loved her.
Overall, this was an excellent and emotionally compelling Canadian drama, featuring the beautiful scenery of Newfoundland and Labrador (masquerading as Nova Scotia), and boasting amazing performances from Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.
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