Sunday, July 09, 2017


Today I saw Maudie, starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.

The film tells the story of real-life Canadian folk artist, Maud Lewis (Hawkins).

Born Maud Dowley, the artist was severely arthritic, which limited her dexterity but didn't stop her from loving to paint. After a comfortable upbringing, Dowley was forced to find work when her brother took all of their inheritance and left her with nothing. She became a housekeeper for Everett Lewis (Hawke), though she wasn't able to perform most chores.

Lewis was a grumpy fish peddler who lived a modest life in a tiny home on the outskirts of Marshalltown. Though it annoyed him she couldn't be a totally effective housemaid, he did allow her to paint the house, greeting cards and anything else she could get her hands on. The two later married and shared a simple, but arguably content life together.

Just a few years before her death, her paintings got international attention and she and her husband sold them out of their house. Most were $2 or $5. Really special ones went for $10.

Aside from being heartbreaking at many turns, it's delightful to watch such a sweet spirit make so much of what anyone else would consider a meager life. Hawkins is Oscar-worthy as the title star—everything from her physical posture to her delicate voice so closely mimics that of the real person, when they show footage of Lewis at the end of the film, you have to do a double take to be sure it's not still her.

Hawke is also strong as an unlikable, yet somehow redeeming mean husband who clearly loves his wife but wants no part of admitting to that.

You'll laugh, you'll sob, you'll scour the internet to see where you can find prints of her work (hint: The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia)—you'll be absorbed into this most emotional, tender look at an artist not to be forgotten.


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