Maud (Sally Hawkins) needs to get out from under her family’s wing. She sees her opportunity when she learns that grumpy Everett (Ethan Hawke) is looking for a housekeeper. Even though he is hesitant to take her on because of her disability, he doesn’t exactly have much choice and Maud is persistent, so they give it a try. In her off time, Maud starts to paint and polishes her personal style, while also finding a home in the community and with Everett.
Althoughe Maudie is a sweet film, I’m not entirely happy with it. Some things I knew going in would bother me, other things crept up on me during the film. Nevertheless I found it entertaining.
First things first, cripping up is unacceptable, and as much as I like Hawkins, it’s a shame that she – an able-bodied woman – was cast in the role of a disabled woman, especially since it’s based on an actual woman’s life. In addition, her characterization often veers into stereotype territory and give us the usual inspiration-porn-y disability angle. It doesn’t go all the way there, avoiding becoming completely unbearable, but at times it’s a close call.
I also thought that the relationship with Everett was really problematic as it was shown. As I know as good as nothing about the actual Maud and Everett Lewis, I can only assume that part of that – the way Maud depends on Everett, the way he isolates her – is probably not unrealistic, but the movie desperately wants to build this into a really romantic romance and the way they try to go about it just doesn’t work for me (despite liking the dynamic in a relationship where one person is an eternal sunshine and the other an eternal grump). The way the movie shows it, there are just not enough steps between a slap and big love, and not enough sensibility in the approach to this relationship.
That being said, I really did like the art – the naive, colorful style Maud has that really is very much her own – and that was part of the biggest attraction of the film. I also liked that Maud had a friend in Sandra (Kari Matchett) as I always hunger for stories about women who are friends and support each other without backstabbing.
The film is also nicely paced and easy enough to watch that time pretty much flies by as you watch it. I was entertained almost despite myself.
Summarizing: ableist and problematic but cute.