Hawkins gives "Maudie" its emotional lift

Ethan Hawke (left) and Sally Hawkins appear in a scene from "Maudie."

"Maudie," based on the true story of folk artist Maud Lewis, is about as low key as a movie can be – well, at least until "A Ghost Story" comes out – but is still full of some genuinely emotional moments.

Anchored by a strong performance from Sally Hawkins, "Maudie" captures the essence of this woman, helping the audience understand and appreciate her hardships and her artistic gift.

The film follows Maud (Hawkins) and her unlikely romance with Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke). The relationship begins as a partnership, with the gruff and reclusive Lewis looking for a housekeeper. Maud, who suffered from crippling arthritis her entire life, sees this as a chance to break away from her family and convinces Everett to give her the job.

The working relationship eventually becomes personal as both start to open up to each other, with Maud discovering her talent as a painter. This new talent leads to newfound fame that not only tests the couple's relationship, but also leads to some revelations about Maud and her family.

Hawkins really gives "Maudie" its emotional core. Although meek and slumped over, she clearly has a lot more under the surface than it first appears.

Hawke tries hard but never quite convinced me to buy him as Everett as much as Hawkins does as Maud. Still, the two leads do have a nice rapport that makes the relationship feel organic and honest.

Cinematographer Guy Godfree really captures the Nova Scotia in a Norman Rockwell sort of way, while Sherry White's script includes a few surprises that gives "Maudie" its finishing kick.

Ultimately, the film is anchored by Hawkins, who shoulders the load quite well. She brings Maud to life and makes "Maudie" worth a look.

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Sports Writer. Cover prep sports, Hot Rods baseball, Titans football, and is the Daily News staff film critic.

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