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DCA Archive


Aisling Walsh

Maud Lewis, although now revered as one of Canada’s greatest folk artists, lived most of her life in poverty, in a tiny wooden house, never travelling more than a few kilometres from her home in Nova Scotia.

The film opens as Maud (Sally Hawkins), a young woman who has already lived a lifetime with juvenile arthritis and a curved back, desperately wants to break away from her overprotective family. She takes a job as a live-in maid for local loner Everett (Ethan Hawke) who is initially resistant to her presence in his isolated rural life. Unused to human company, Everett considers Maudie to be at the very bottom of the pecking order in the house – well below the dogs and the chickens. With Maud awkward and self-conscious, it seems almost incomprehensible that this odd couple will ever connect. But as they do, Maud begins to find her voice and confidence as a painter as well.

Hawkins, with her big eyes and tiny frame, perfectly captures Maud’s unexpected and quiet pleasure at finding acceptance after a lifetime of isolation. And while Maud’s paintings were often described as childlike or innocent (she was never formally taught, and never met with other artists), she was a true original. The relationship between Maud and Everett certainly defied all expectations and Maudie shows us just why and how.