Maudie

This Irish-Canadian drama tells the true story of Maud Lewis (played beautifully by Sally Hawkins), an arthritic woman in Nova Scotia who taught herself to paint and became an internationally recognized folk artist. Rather than dwell on Lewis’s career, screenwriter Sherry White looks at her relationship with her husband (Ethan Hawke, cast effectively against type), a mean and socially maladroit handyman who hires her as a live-in maid but over time falls in love with her. White and director Aisling Walsh refuse to soft-peddle the husband’s chauvinism or insensitivity, and because of this, his transformation into a loving, supportive husband seems as hard-won as his wife’s success in the art world. The setting, emotionally wounded characters, and sensitivity to small-town dynamics all reminded me of Jean Negulesco’s classic Johnny Belinda (1948).