Rated: PG-13 for some thematic content and brief sexuality. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: July 14, 2017 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics
Not without its flaws is this gambit of a limited biopic which "expresses desires of recording reactions of personality to where one resides" with unobtrusive grace mainly set in the late 1930s.
The exquisitely crafted Maudie features Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke in an unglamorous Nova Scotia that may draw comparisons to Jim Sheridan's mighty My Left Foot in its portrait of a strong-willed, tender artist.
Hawkins's Maud Lewis is a self-taught painter harshly afflicted (from childhood) with rheumatoid arthritis, and in Aisling Walsh's slow to deliberate depiction follows her from a constraining family to working as a live-in-maid for the socially inept, surly (and cruel) fish peddler in Hawke's Everett Lewis.
Everett's shack of an abode is where Maud will paint nature on whatever she can — even wood just lying around, and a touring Big Apple art dealer will eventually be privy to an innovator of the folk art movement. Even more unlikely is Maud and Everett sharing a life together as a married couple the way he treated her.
With some liberties taken by the story and Hawke better looking than the actual Everett the honesty and truthfulness of the performances really take hold, especially Hawkins (at least as memorable as she was in the winsome Happy-Go-Lucky) who totally immerses herself in the character. And, Hawke's turn as the man who learns much about and from his debilitating significant other whom he has taken for granted never seems conniving or pat.
Maudie won't probably have the lasting impact that it should probably in part due to the nature and streamlining of the narrative, yet Hawkins is a hugely watchable presence whose richness will captivate appreciative art-house cineastes.