Occasionally a film comes along, out of left field and blindsides you, either the story or the acting just blows you away – this is one of those movies.
Maud Lewis (Sally Hawkins) is an young woman living in remote rural Nova Scotia Canada circa 1930. Due to her juvenile rheumatoid arthritis condition, most people think of her as stupid. A little simple and naive in a cynical world maybe, but not stupid.
Answering an advert posted by a local gruff fish peddler Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke), Maud begins a journey both small, yet colossal. Taking the audience on an emotional roller coaster, underpinned with some of the best acting in this or any other year.
Maud maybe be crippled and bent over but she has talent, an unflagging faith in the simple things and a belief in the human spirit. The film is not an easy watch in places but stay to the end to do the material justice.
It will be a hard heart indeed, that fails to have some emotional connection between these two “odd souls” finding each other. Gradually they mold each other to their idiosyncrasies and outbursts, like two odd socks as one character quotes later in the film.
This is a small film, beautifully shot on location. Hawkins is quite simply superb and has never been better. Hawke runs a close second, with a difficult part channeling his full “Harrison Ford” grumpy mode acting to great effect.
Everett is not played as a bad man, just a man out of his emotional depth. He does know what he needs but without the tools to communicate, he lashes out and hurts those he requires the most.
The film is sensitively directed by Aisling Walsh from a screenplay by Sherry White, clearly a film created with love and care for this real life character.
There is humour, there is sadness and a few disturbing scenes but overall the film comes highly recommended. Best watched with little knowledge of the story, to prevent prejudging the film. Stay behind for the brief clip, acknowledging this as a true story. Of course it is, as a fictional movie pitch this would be difficult to believe.
The type of movie that stays with you long after the credits roll. This is what cinema used to be about, great stories told by great actors and not a noticeable frame of CGI required.