Monthly Archives: June 2017

Film Review: Maudie

Film Review: Maudie

Maudie, Aisling Walsh’s biopic of Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, is an unpretentious and inspiring film. Sally Hawkins does not play Maud so much as disappear into her. Ethan Hawke gives a strong performance as her husband Everett. Screenwriter Sherry White provides a touching love story about two people Maud describes as a “pair of odd socks”.

Walsh and White are not in a hurry to reveal the cause of Maud’s health problems (rheumatoid arthritis, dating from childhood). They concentrate on showing her thoroughly unsympathetic family members, who sell the house she inherited and generally treat her as a mental incompetent.

Everett, who grew up in an orphanage, now ekes out a living as a fish peddler near Digby, Nova Scotia. He has a tiny house (roughly 10 X 12 feet), but decides he needs someone to “make the place look all right”. Maud sees Everett’s ad for a live-in housekeeper at a local store. She wastes no time ripping it off the wall and walking to his doorstep.

The job represents independence to Maud, and she fights for it. Everett takes her on for a trial, primarily because there are no other applicants. There is a problem-the tiny house only has room for one bed. Maud agrees to share a bed with Everett, but she also blurts out her concerns about physical intimacy. (Of all the betrayals she suffers at the hands of her family, this is the most heartbreaking.) The two marry soon afterwards.

Maud’s idea of “making the place look all right” has little to do with housework. She begins painting flowers, birds, and leaves at various spots in the house. Soon she is making Christmas cards and small paintings that Everett sells. Sandra (Kari Matchett), a visitor from New York, buys a painting and starts to promote Maud’s work. Suddenly she is an artist, not just someone who paints a little. She begins to develop a following that includes the Nixon White House (an unimpressed Maud demands they pay up front).

In an apt touch, Guy Godfree’s cinematography manages to suggest the landscapes of Maud’s paintings. Only the sharpest-eyed viewers will notice Newfoundland and Labrador standing in for Nova Scotia. Michael Timmins’ folksy score is just the right musical touch.

Creating a biopic demands some interpretation on the part of the filmmakers. It should come as no surprise that Walsh and White condense and selectively reveal parts of Maud’s life. Contrary to what the film suggests, Maud learned to paint as a child. In an interview with Herald Lifestyles, Walsh says Sandra is a combination of two women.[1]

In the end, though, what matters is whether the portrayal evokes the heart and spirit of its subject. Thanks in large part to Sally Hawkins’ performance, I think Maudie achieves this goal in bright, splashy colors.

Theme: Art Overcomes Adversity

Related Posts: Film Appreciation: My Left Foot  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-my-left-foot/

Art Overcomes Adversity: List For Week Ending June 25, 2017  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/art-overcomes-adversity-list-for-week-ending-june-25-2017/

[1] http://thechronicleherald.ca/artslife/1459863-maudie-momentum-a-q-and-a-with-director-aisling-walsh

Film Appreciation: My Left Foot

Film Appreciation: My Left Foot

“I saw it as more than a rather grim story of a man in a wheelchair. Christy represented for me a real kind of heroism, and I really wanted to try to capture the rage and frustration that led him to paint and write. To show, I suppose, that the trap is not the wheelchairContinue Reading

Art Overcomes Adversity: List For Week Ending June 25, 2017

Art Overcomes Adversity: List For Week Ending June 25, 2017

Our films this week deal with artists who produce their work despite adversity, often in the form of a health condition. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. If you know an addition to this list, please write using the comments below. Maudie (2016) (Reviewed In Thinking Cinema 6/23/17) http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-review-maudie/ MyContinue Reading

Film Review: Stefan Zweig: Farewell To Europe

Film Review: Stefan Zweig: Farewell To Europe

Ordinarily, I would not recommend Googling the subject of a biopic prior to seeing the film. In the case of Stefan Zweig: Farewell To Europe, I have to make an exception. Director/writer Maria Schrader and co-writer Jan Schomburg operate under the assumption that viewers are already familiar with Zweig’s life. Expending work to piece togetherContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Letter To An Unknown Woman

Film Appreciation: Letter To An Unknown Woman

PLOT SPOILERS THROUGHOUT Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948) is worth seeing because it shows a group of talented individuals-Max Ophuls, Howard Koch, Franz Planer and Alexander Golitzen among them-at the top of their form. Honesty compels me to add that the story, adapted from the Stefan Zweig novel of the same name, requires considerableContinue Reading

Film Review: My Cousin Rachel

Film Review: My Cousin Rachel

Good looks only go so far Roger Michell’s adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel is easier to admire than like. The film is quite impressive from a technical standpoint. Mike Eley’s cinematography, Kristina Hetherington’s editing, Rael Jones’ music, and Alice Normington’s production design are all top-notch. Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin give strongContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Don’t Look Now

Film Appreciation: Don’t Look Now

“Nothing is what it seems.” John Baxter This line, spoken casually in the opening minutes of Don’t Look Now (1973), almost serve as a tip-off to the audience. Very little in Nicolas Roeg’s film can be taken at face value, or understood in isolation. John (Donald Sutherland) is a professional restorer of buildings. At theContinue Reading

Film Review: In Between

Film Review: In Between

Maysaloun Hamoud’s debut feature, In Between, is enthralling and more than a bit unsettling. It tells the story of three young, independent Palestinian women who share an apartment in Tel Aviv. Hamoud’s script illustrates how their ambitions vary from tradition, and the price each pays for her choices. Dynamic attorney Leila (Mouna Hawa) shares anContinue Reading