Category Archives: Reviews

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 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 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 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

Film Review: A Classy Broad

Film Review: A Classy Broad

Producer Marcia Nasatir has two pillows on the couch in her apartment. One reads, “Done”, the other “Next”. That is the motto for this Hollywood trailblazer, whose life is the subject of Anne Goursaud’s documentary, A Classy Broad. It is a motto Nasatir continues to follow-never mind that she has just turned ninety-one. Growing upContinue Reading

Film Review: Dean

Film Review: Dean

Demetri Martin has had a long career as a standup comic, as well as an actor and writer on shows like The Daily Show and Late Night With Conan O’Brien. He makes his debut as a screenwriter and director with the dramedy Dean. Although the film is uneven and more than a bit derivative, MartinContinue Reading

Film Review: Past Life

Film Review: Past Life

Avi Nesher’s new film, Past Life, brings to mind a quote from Elie Wiesel: “It always hurts when you lose a secret”. In this case, the pain affects members of a family and those connected to them via wartime tragedies. The fact-inspired narrative has moments of contrivance, but these are offset by two strong leadContinue Reading

Film Review: Norman

Film Review: Norman

It is a little hard to avoid spoilers in a film with the title Norman: The Moderate Rise And Tragic Fall Of A New York Fixer. Luckily, writer/director Joseph Cedar (Footnote) has made Norman’s journey sufficiently interesting that you will not mind having a notion of its destination. Good acting, especially by Richard Gere inContinue Reading

Film Review: The Promise

Film Review: The Promise

Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, an Armenian-American, was the driving force behind The Promise. His aim was to make a film about a disputed subject: the Ottoman Empire’s slaughter of over one million Armenians in World War I. Kerkorian wanted the story to evoke classic films like Dr. Zhivago. Good intentions only go so far in filmmaking.Continue Reading