Maudie is based on the real life story of Maud Lewis, a Nova Scotian folk artist. Unfortunately Nova Scotia’s provincial funding cuts forced the film to be shot in Newfoundland. Born at the turn of the 20th century to working-class parents, Maud (Sally Hawkins) suffered from early onset rheumatoid arthritis. Maud loved to paint and at an early age sold Christmas cards to friends and neighbors.  

Her parents’ untimely deaths left her an orphan at an early age, and Maud began to depend on extended family. Wanting to gain independence, she answered an ad to be a housekeeper for an uncouth brute of a man (Ethan Hawke). The movie recreates the story of a relationship that developed into a marriage of convenience and then slowly into love as Maud not only does her best to be a wife but also fills the interior surfaces of their tiny isolated home with art. She added brightly colored tulips, birds, and suns to a home that, after her death, became a museum.

At first blush the viewer sees brilliance trapped in a broken body, but paradoxically this might have been the source of artist’s eye and skill. Maud took infinite pleasure in every bit of beauty. Looking out a window she was quoted as saying “the whole of life already framed.”

A great movie to share with an art class, book club, or small group. (Mongrel Media)

About the Author

Jenny de Groot is a teacher/librarian in Langley, British Columbia.