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Maudie

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An unsentimental but emotional film for anyone who suspects in their heart of hearts that suffering really is the only thing that makes anyone worth a damn. Particularly if it is borne gracefully, but also if it’s not. Sometimes, it’s enough to simply remain in its presence. “Maudie” is Maud Lewis (Sally Hawkins), an arthritic black sheep who flees her politely awful family for the company of a deeply ornery fish peddler (Ethan Hawke) and his two-room shack. (She starts out as his housekeeper; when he comes to her in the night, she suggests that if they’re going to do that, they might as well get married.) It turns out she does some painting along with the cooking and cleaning: blotches of color amid the dim and dinge that work a slow, determined transformation. As her body twists in upon itself, the world around her is forced to open up: its eyes, its mind, its shriveled, hardened heart. Less the story of a real-life artist than the story of a real-life relationship gradually overwhelmed by beauty. (2016) — Matthew Lickona

Rated PG-13 | 1 hour, 55 minutes
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What was Matthew Lickona thinking when he gave Maudie three stars? A pathetic handicapped woman takes a job with a surly, brutal lout. When she has the nerve to speak publicly he slaps her face, which immediately inspires her to start painting flowers on the wall of the dirty shack in which, inexplicably, she chooses to remain. Even worse, she marries him.

Seeing this woman debased proved too depressing for me, and no amount of folk art, or Sally Hawkins’s trademark winning smile (what in God’s name did she have to smile about?) could lighten the load.

Andrew Crane, Encinitas

July 11, 2017

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