Film » Film Features

'Maudie' is an Uneven Portrait of a Canadian Folk Artist's Life



To get a sense of the folk art movement's lasting legacy, you don't need to go to a proper gallery. Walk into any House of Blues, and you'll see the stuff hanging from the concert venue's walls. That represents the degree to which the artwork became pervasive.

Maudie, a new biopic about the life of Marshalltown, Nova Scotia-based folk artist Maud Lewis (Sally Hawkins) tells the remarkable story about how the woman overcame debilitating arthritis to become a folk artist of some stature. The movie opens on Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre.

The film commences as Maud's brother Charles (Zachary Bennett) informs Maud that he's sold their childhood house and that she has to live with her rather stern aunt (Gabrielle Rose) because she's not able to take care of herself. Infuriated, Maud sets out to find room and boarding. She manages to convince the town's surly fisherman Everett (Ethan Hawke) to take her on as a live-in maid. He had posted an ad in the local store expressing an interest in hiring a woman to look after him and his tiny home.

Given her limited abilities and Everett's tendency to act like he's the king of a castle, Maud struggles to adapt. Abusive and incommunicative, Everett acts like some kind of caveman. Much like Billy Bob Thornton's character in Slingblade, he grunts and grumbles one-word responses to her questions and regularly throws temper tantrums when Maud doesn't follow his "rules."

Still, Everett lets her pursue her art. One day, after her rather primitive nature scenes catch the eye of a woman visiting from New York, she begins receiving commissions. Word of her talent spreads quickly via newspaper articles and news reports, and Maud becomes a sensation.

The film focuses on Maud and Everett's relationship so heavily that it fails to accurately portray the artistry of her paintings. Yet, thanks to such a warm performance from Hawkins, the movie still reveals just how special this artist truly was.

Stick around for the credits to see a clip of the real-life Maud and Everett, as well as photos of some of her incredible artwork.

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