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Director Aisling Walsh's moving drama paints a dignified portrait of Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, who weathered agonising rheumatoid arthritis as she shared her vision of the world in brightly coloured paintings. Filmed on location in Ireland and Newfoundland, Maudie is an inspirational story of triumph against adversity, celebrating the endurance of one indefatigable human spirit in a bitterly cold, tumbledown shack at the mercy of the elements. Sally Hawkins, Oscar-nominated for her supporting turn in Blue Jasmine, is extraordinary in the demanding title role. It's a transformative performance reminiscent of Daniel Day-Lewis' stellar work in My Left Foot, capturing Lewis' dignity and determination as her physical state deteriorates: an increasingly stooped posture, unsteadiness on her feet, unresponsive fingers twisted into a gnarled claw. The pain that ripples through her body is palpable in each shuffle but Hawkins never resorts to grandstanding or shameless emotional manipulation to earn our unswerving admiration and empathy. When the Oscar nominations are announced early next year, it will be a travesty if she isn't among the five names in the hotly contested race for Best Actress In A Leading Role. Maud Dowley (Hawkins) lives in 1930s Nova Scotia with her Aunt Ida (Gabrielle Rose) and brother Charles (Zachary Bennett), who believes his sister is helpless and completely at the mercy of her arthritis. She determines to prove them both wrong by taking a position as a housekeeper for a local man, Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke), who peddles fish in a large wheelbarrow and lives in a wooden shack on the edge of town. "You can't take care of yourself let alone a house!" scoffs Charles. Unperturbed, Maud cooks and scrubs through her physical pain, and daubs "a happy little chicken" and flowers on the shack's walls to brighten up her new home. She also adorns cards with her primitive depictions of the natural world and a local woman, Sandra (Kari Matchett), commissions a full-size painting. Maud's art gains attention in the media and Everett allows her to transform the shack into a makeshift studio, where passers-by can purchase her work. "I don't know why people pay for these," snipes one shopkeeper. "My five year-old could do better." Love blossoms between Maud and her gruff employer while Nova Scotia freezes. Maudie rests almost entirely on Hawkins' hunched shoulders and she carries the picture through its occasional lulls. Hawke is solid support and there is an endearingly awkward rapport between the couple. "We're like a pair of odd socks," Maud observes tenderly. The script gifts the two actors some incredibly touching scenes including an outpouring of emotion about the death of Maud's baby daughter that is played with heart-rending restraint. Sometimes, films of few words are the best films.