Maud Lewis is among the most inspiring figures in Canadian art. Afflicted with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, she spent her early life dismissed for what was presumed to be her limited ability. But Lewis’ colourful paintings, made on surfaces ranging from beaverboard to cookie sheets, established her as one of our country’s premier folk artists. Starring Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky, Blue Jasmine) and Ethan Hawke (Born to Be Blue, Boyhood), this moving film explores Lewis’ life in all its heartbreak and triumph.
Marshalltown, Nova Scotia, 1937. Maud Dowley (Hawkins) is stuck living with her unsympathetic aunt. Desperate to break away, she responds to a local fish peddler’s call for a housekeeper. Everett Lewis (Hawke) is disagreeable and initially cruel to Maudie, but the two quickly acknowledge that each is in their own way a social outcast. They need and understand each other. Within weeks, they marry.
One day a summer resident comes calling. She is a New Yorker, wears alluring clothing and talks like Katharine Hepburn. She sees something in Maudie’s paintings and commissions one. Suddenly Maudie’s pastime is recognized as having real value. People come from far and wide. Eventually her work will hang in the White House.
Cinematographer Guy Godfree fills Maudie with majestic images of maritime landscape and light, while director Aisling Walsh focuses on character, drawing performances of emotional complexity and great physical detail from her leads.
Though set in the past, Maudie speaks to the present in many ways—this is, after all, a tale of a woman asserting herself as a generator of both art and commerce. But it is also a story of the power of creativity to transform a life and touch the soul.
“A stellar, warmly persuasive starring turn by Sally Hawkins as crippled, self-taught painter Maud Lewis is the raison d’etre of Maudie.” (Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter)
“Maudie will make you laugh. It will leave tears running down your cheeks. But the best part about Maudie is that above all, without contrivance or manipulation, it will remind you it is possible to fall in love with the people you watch onscreen.” (Jordan Parker, The Chronicle Herald)
“The film is stunningly beautiful and deeply moving with lashes of humour as award-winning Irish director Aisling Walsh, working with Nova Scotia director of photography Guy Godfree, creates a painterly, poetic and fast-paced picture celebrating Maud’s artistry and her spirit.” (Elissa Barnard, Local Xpress)