Soul Of An Artist

Stars: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke, Kari Matchett, Zachary Bennett, Gabrielle Rose and Greg Malone
Director: Aisling Walsh
Scriptwriter: Sherry White
Composer: Michael Timmins
Cinematographer: Guy Godfree
Parallel Films/Sony
Rating:: PG 13 for themed material and mental illness
Running Time: 116 Minutes 

Creativity is not something that you work to achieve, it is just there. Such is the true story of Nova Scotia artist Maud Dowley Lewis, of the 1930’s, who was born small in shape, shorter than the average person, a foot deformity, but with wit and the ability to paint. Maud (vividly played by Sally Hawkins) was counted out by her family, including a brother and an aunt. One day in her adult years, Maud decided to strike out on her own and the world of art gained for it. Maud saw the world through eyes filled with flowers, animals, sunny days, snowy days, and looking at her work made you happy. 

The film begins with Maud living in the care of an aunt (Gabrielle Rose). Maud smokes a great deal, sneaks away into town when she can, and in general tries to live a normal life, though brother, Charles (Zachary Bennett) and the aunt always tell her she just can't do anything by herself. Seeing a local fish peddler, Everett Lewis (well played by Ethan Hawke) put up a sign for a housekeeper, Maud packs up, leaves the aunt’s house, and persuades Everett to give her a chance.  He is grouchy personified from Day One and won't cut her any slack. Maud perseveres and eventually they have an understanding, fall in love, and marry. This is to the amazement of the town, who can't stand crabby Everett and take pity on Maud. To combat loneliness, Maud begins to paint, first designs on the house walls, next windows, furniture, pieces of board, and then people begin to buy the paintings. Vice President Nixon even ordered one by mail.  The marriage had its up and down, there are humorous moments (Everett darning his socks while Maud paints) and sad moments. 

Sally Hawkins is unrecognizable in the role of Maud and you feel her independent spirit want to fly and at last has a chance. Here is someone bursting with creativity and people around her barely know she exists, sometimes, this is her own husband. Ethan Hawke plays a man who probably has autism. He, also, moves through life his own way, which is being stern, dour and sometimes cruel,  because he doesn't have the social skills to move through society. Maud is the only person who understands him. The other actors, do their parts as they are called on to do, but the film is Maud and Everett and their life. By painting flowers on the windows of her small home, Maud got the attention of the world, which  came to her door. 

The scenery of Nova Scotia is beautifully done by cinematographer Guy Timmins. Seeing the characters at a distance against the sky or oncoming evening, gives us another view of how alone they felt at times.  The camera dwells on Maud’s face, which is sometimes partly hidden pointing out her shyness. Everett, on the other hand, defiantly glares at the camera. Here is life in a beautiful countryside in which people think they own the world when their house is 10 x 12 with an attic. This house, richly painted by Maud through the years, is now part of a museum. Makes you want to start packing your suitcase for a visit. 

 Copyright 2017 Marie Asner