Maudie Ethan Hawke Sally Hawkins

Without love, there is no purpose.

Bent over and hunched, Sally Hawkins undergoes an astonishing physical transformation to play arthritic Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis in the moving biopic Maudie, but what’s really impressive about her performance is the spark and soul she brings to the role.

Born with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, the stubbornly independent Maud leaves her aunt’s frosty care in 1938 Nova Scotia to set up home with cantankerous fish peddler Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke), first as his improbable housekeeper, then as his wife.

And an unlikely romance slowly unfolds as Maud, undeterred by Everett’s gruff bullying, creates her cheerfully naïve art – first on the walls of the bare one-room house and then on postcards and boards that win her surprising renown – and locates the tenderness beneath her husband’s wounded bluster.

Director Aisling Walsh frames these performances beautifully, celebrating her subject’s life with delicate grace.  Shame, though, about the insistently mournful score by the Cowboy Junkies’ Michael Timmins.

Certificate 12. Runtime 113 mins. Director Aisling Walsh

Maudie available on DVD & Digital from Sony Pictures.