An indie bio-drama, Maudie follows the life of Nova Scotia painter Maud Lewis. The film, a Canadian-Irish production, shot to a small budget of $5.6mm, was directed by Aisling Walsh, to a screenplay by Sherry White. It stars Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke in the lead roles.
Maudie, the film, like its title character, slowly grows on you. Maud Lewis was a woman facing many challenges, not to the least of which were physical nature, poverty and a hostile family, yet she had something most privileged people do not always poses; a joyful attitude. Interestingly enough, Sally Hawkins who plays Maud, played a character of similar nature in the 2008 Mike Leigh film Happy-Go-Lucky (a wonderful gem of a film, worth watching.)
Maud’s art may be considered infantile by some, while others are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars in auction houses these days, for paintings that originally sold for just a few dollars. Regardless, no one can ignore her resilience and passion. The film portrays her husband, Everett, as a grumpy, hardheaded, outcast, which may or may not have been the case. In the film, Everett first merely tolerates Maud’s passion for painting, and only when he realizes money can be made, he supports her efforts. From what I read, that was not necessarily the case. Still, as much as the film is concerned, it adds dramatic and romantic depth to the plot which, otherwise, is not that exciting. What this characterization does is further demonstrate Maude as soft yet persistent, and as such, as the saying goes, even water can wear away stone.
Sally Hawkins’ performance is outstanding, and Ethan Hawke does well in his prescribed role.
By the way, in real life, the Lewies couple lived in a truly small house of 10 ft × 12 ft. Talk about pioneering tiny homes… But for them it was not a statement but rather plain poverty. The house still stands as a landmark in Nova Scotia, housing a museum, but for the film, it had to be reconstructed at a slightly larger size to accommodate the filming crew needs. The film was shot in Newfoundland and Labrador, not in Nova Scotia, due to various consideration, including financing.