An arthritic Nova Scotia woman (Sally Hawkins) works as a housekeeper for a gruff fishmonger (Ethan Hawke) while she hones her skills as an artist, eventually becoming a beloved figure in the rural community and beyond.
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ery often, biopics based on visual artists are often covered in the same kind of style as the actual artist. Julie Taymor's Frida, for example, featured flashes of surrealism and colour into a relatively straightforward story about the rise of an artist against an anguished life. With Maudie, it's almost the exact opposite. The bright and colourful art which the titular character creates is almost in direct contrast to the austere, realistic visuals which director Aisling Walsh creates, and this is also reflected in the relationship between Sally Hawkins' optimistic, joyful character and Ethan Hawkes' gruff and terse portrayal.
eally, the film rests in the hands of these two capable actors and both of them work each and every scene with a deftness and ease that makes it all the more affecting. More to the point, Hawkins' representation of Maud Evertt's rheumatoid arthritis is simply woven into the performance than it being front and centre. It's a part of her, but it's not the defining factor in the way Christy Brown's cerebral palsy was in My Left Foot. At the same time, the whole impetus of her stepping out onto her own is because she's been effectively rendered homeless. What the film seems to focus on is how a life-long relationship develops between someone who has trouble expressing themselves - in this case, Hawkes - and someone who does it easily and joyfully.
s mentioned, the cinematography by Guy Godfree and Aisling Walsh's direction come together to create some truly beautiful images and scenes, both in terms of colour and how they're composed. Like the real Maud Everrt's work, it has a warmth and charm that's completely unmistakable, but still very much it's own thing. For the most part, the film has a sweetness to it that carries it along, but there's more than a few moments in the film that see it verge into slightly mawkish territory - but it makes sense when you consider that both Maud Everrt's art and the film itself is all about sincerity and integrity, and that can sometimes come across that way.
verall, Maudie is a tender and moving biopic that may be low stakes, but is never low rent.
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