There isn’t a single wrong note in Maudie, an alternately heartbreaking and uplifting biofilm about the life of Canadian painter Maud Lewis (Sally Hawkins).
After answering an ad for a housekeeper in Nova Scotia, Maud, stricken with arthritis since she was a child, winds up in the house of miserable bastard Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke, delivering yet another monumental performance). The two wind up married, but it’s no fairytale; Everett has some major, major issues that Maud must contend with and, when Maud finds fame with her sweet paintings, Everett becomes an even bigger jerk.
Director Aisling Walsh, working from a script by Sherry White, makes a lot of interesting choices depicting the couple; Hawkins and Hawke make them all work. Hawkins is a true Oscar contender for her work here, and while the role of Lewis requires a difficult and strenuous physical performance, the light in her voice gives Lewis an illuminating quality.
The humor always shines through, and it’s breathtaking how good she is. Hawke never gives up the ghost on his character, one of unrelenting stubbornness afflicted with a permanent scowl. He could find himself in the Oscar race, as well.
If there’s an underlying message to this movie it’s this: If you love somebody, you better damn well act like you mean it before it’s too late.