What makes good art? What is good art? What is art?
Perhaps these questions shouldn’t even be asked. After all: one man’s rubbish is another’s treasure, and isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?
Maud Lewis (Hawkins) is a housekeeper – and then wife – by trade, and a painter when the chores allow. Her employer, and soon-to-be husband (Hawke), is a prideful, grumpy, but ultimately deeply loving and devoted man who comes to the slow realisation that his Maudie should put down the J-cloth and keep the brush in her hand, first for financial reasons then for more sentimental ones.
What continues to set Maud aside from soon-to-be artists the world over is the crippling arthritis which seems to pain her every movement. And this is what brings some of the most vivid and distinctive tones to the pallet.
Aisling Walsh starts with a crisp white canvas and lavishly coats layer after layer of colour and clarity onto the screen until it is nothing short of a masterpiece. Maudie moves through the once-simple, then great and famous, life of a small, frail woman with an effortlessness that perhaps only an artist in full stride, streaking and splashing, can recreate. Hawkins and Hawke, despite their stunted dialogue, similarly enter a level of artistic transcendence that, at its best, is a joy to behold.
In a modern world dominated by the rat race to define and achieve happiness, Maudie serves to remind us that a humble, simple life – a life well lived – is its own art form.
Like Maudie’s paintings, the film, if observed too closely, is not quite to scale here and slightly out of kilter there, but who cares? Art isn’t science. It doesn’t have answers. It doesn’t have to have the answers. Not when it’s beautiful.
CAST: Ethan Hawke, Sally Hawkins, Kari Matchett
DIRECTOR: Aisling Walsh
WRITER: Sherry White
SYNOPSIS: An arthritic Nova Scotia woman works as a housekeeper while she hones her skills as an artist and eventually becomes a beloved figure in the community.