There are performances, once seen, that take up permanent residency in one’s archival memory bank. Focusing on women actors: Luise Rainer (“The Great Ziegfeld”), Vivian Leigh (“Gone With the Wind”), Bette Davis (“All About Eve”), Meryl Streep (“Sophie’s Choice”), Kareena Kapoor (“Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon”), Maggie Smith (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”), Helen Mirren (“The Last Station”); umpteen more, but watching Sally Hawkins depict the life of folk artist Maud Lewis, (1903-1970) realizing, as she blazed into the realm of the unforgettable, that I was witnessing profound, enchanting, artistry; from every pore, smile, grimace she oozes Maud’s core; arthritic, disenfranchised, pure loneliness steers her into a world of paint; the universe is framed by a window pane; her subjects, in inaccessible Nova Scotia, are what she sees, she needs and wants nothing more…..until, searching for her own path of independence, away from her caddish brother and glacial aunt she applies for a job as a “housekeeper” (a euphemism to keep perpetual isolation at bay), Everett Lewis (formidable, Ethan Hawke) a curmudgeonly, miserly fish peddler, barely has a house to look after, but for Maud it offered a haven from her deplorable circumstances. His cruelty and abusiveness dissipate with his need for her; two souls barely tethered to the surface, yearning for attachment, discover fodder for love.
Director Aisling Walsh and writer Sherry White with superlative “Maude” tell a tale of discovery; Sandra (Kari Matchett), a New Yorker, is a part-time resident in Marshalltown N.S. opens, through her persistence and prescience, the eyes of experts and neophytes to the world of a naïve, “outside” artist; untrained, they find their own oeuvre (Paul Gauguin is in this category) and soar. The bonus, being a love story of imaginative scope; an elegiac poignancy lingers long after the screen has dimmed and life intrudes.
FOUR & 1/2 STARS