Maudie by Sherry White
Maudie is a sensitive, sometimes sad, endearing and worthwhile film about resilience, humanity, kindness, art, talent, overcoming challenges, disability and coping with adversity and trauma.
Sally Hawkins is in the title role and she is a brilliant actress, twice nominated for an Academy Award- last for this year’s Best Picture- The Shape of Water- and for her role in Blue Jasmine.
This phenomenal artist has been excellent in other memorable films: Made in Dagenham, Happy-Go-Lucky, An Education, Persuasion, Vera Drake and more.
In this very good feature, she is Maud Lewis-her former last name was Dowley- aka “Maudie” from the title.
The heroine was born with a disease, rheumatoid arthritis, which is making her movements painful, she has problems in walking over even small distances and she is transported in something like a wheelbarrow in various circumstances.
Her life and activity reminds one of another special, wonderful film, the winner of two major Academy Awards- My Left Foot- reviewed here: http://notesaboutfilms.blogspot.ro/2018/01/my-left-foot-based-on-book-by-christy.html
In My Left Foot, Christy Brown suffers from cerebral palsy, but his passion for painting, resilience, extraordinary grit and resilience launch his career as a painting, although he has to use his Left Foot to create works of art.
There are quite a few similarities between Christy Brown- aka the Oscar winner for this and two other fantastic roles Daniel Day-Lewis-and Maud Dowley, the latter has to endure the haughty, disdainful attitude of people, including brother Charlie and aunt Ida, who believe her to be mentally retarded, just because she has problems walking and her body is distorted by her affliction.
One day, her brother Charlie talks about the house and the fact that he has to sell, provoking his sister to protest and say that she will take her of the home, even if her brother makes it plain that he is sure she is not able to take care of herself, let alone the garden and everything else.
Maud Dowley is grieved, upset and perhaps infuriated by the decision of the brother, who first said he would need to sell the house and then admitted he had already done so, and she walks to the shop in the small town, where a local fish seller talks with the shop owner about his need for a maid.
The heroine decides to apply for the job, travels to the house of Everett Lewis aka a rather wooden Ethan Hawke and expresses her intent to work for him, facing his reluctance and questions regarding her health, seeing as he noticed the difficulty the woman has in walking.
The fish seller ponders over the application and comes one day to take Maud to work for him, taking care of the house, cooking meals and everything else a maid does, with added, unexpected contributions in regards to the look of the interior of his home, which she starts painting.
The employer and his help get gradually closer to each other, even if Everett Lewis, an uneducated, rough, rather unpleasant, selfish, often rude, sexist- as men have been for millennia-even if we consider these were the 1930s in rural Nova Scotia, is not very affectionate, on the contrary, he is brutal and violent with the woman that he employs for food and board only.
When the man wants to have intercourse with her, Maud says that in order for that to happen, they would have to get married and then, after more attempts, she tells the story of the child she had, who has died and her relatives have buried the poor girl while the mother was still sleeping, in order to protect her- she thinks.
Sandra is a woman who comes to the house one day because she had arranged for two fish that Everett did not bring and she is the person who changes the life of the protagonist, with her initial interest in the paintings, which is then the reason why Maud becomes famous, first through an article stating her location, mentioning even the name of Everett and then a television reportage is made on the subject.
Everett marries Maud, whose other name is Lewis now, and benefits from the money that the paintings bring, on which the artist writes the name of her husband, since she says this is their business now and she also lets him to decide the prices- $ 5 for the larger ones and much less for the cards- and what to sell and what to set aside.
Her art is naïve and more and more appreciated, people travel to the house, which is the atelier and the “shop” where the art is sold, for which the painter says she needs a door with a net, for she cannot work because of the heat and the flies and her spouse refuses, saying that she only needs to open the door…what about the flies? The poor woman protests- if I open the door, they are all over the place.
Finally, the husband installs a net, a compromise between buying something from the store- the money that his wife is making represent more of the common income than he brings home- and doing nothing.
Maud and Everett have an important fight, the latter saying that he had been better off before she came into his house, considering that she talks too much about her family and the baby- the truth being that for this backward individual, two words a day might be too much anyway.
Maud finds out a shocking truth about the baby that she thought dead and buried long ago, when the aunt tells her the truth and this is such a game change, the heroine is determined to find if the child was afflicted, born with a disease like her own or some other disability.
Maudie is a small production, apparently, the budget was lower than five million dollars, but it is an endearing, often sad, worthwhile story.