A laudable performance by Sally Hawkins can't save this sluggish biopic of painter Maude Lewis
Maude Lewis lived a singular life. A hunched figure afflicted by debilitating arthritis, Lewis spent decades living in a tiny shack in Nova Scotia, where she created vibrant watercolour paintings that ended up in Richard Nixon’s White House. It’s an interesting story, sure, but is it a film? On the evidence of Aisling Walsh’s Maudie, the answer is no.
Walsh and her screenwriter, Sherry White, take a bog-standard biopic approach to the material, taking us through Maude’s life step-by-step – her illness, her marriage, her artistic flourishing – but the sluggish pacing and banal filmmaking means each scene just sits there on the screen, failing to tie into any larger theme or illuminate deeper truths about the characters.
Sally Hawkins works hard to give the film a motor, but her physical exertions aren’t matched by a sense of Maude’s inner life. At least she fares better than Ethan Hawke, who scowls and grunts embarrassingly as Maude’s taciturn, abusive and finally grudgingly affectionate husband. Hawke is usually a fine actor, but his miscasting here is a disaster. [Philip Concannon]