Friday, January 29

Saint Maud Review

Saint Maud

Dir: Rose Glass

Starring: Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle, Lily Fraser, and Lily Knight

Run Time: 84 Minutes



"Saint Maud," a bold, beautiful, and brutal debut from writer/director Rose Glass, focuses on the lifesaving, soul-saving work of a hospice care nurse named Maud (MorfyddClark). The film, composed with a quiet and purposefully ambiguous assuredness, blends the power of religious fanaticism and unwavering faith with sexuality and the devastating nature of trauma experienced by working with the death and dying process. It yields a psychological drama that is shrouded in a strikingly dark vision of horror. 


Maud has experienced a life of trauma, some self-inflicted, but other ways experienced because of her job as a nurse. She is a recent convert into the religious faith, and her home displays the faith-based artifacts and pictures as a shrine of worship. She talks about her life committed to a higher purpose and finds her work in healthcare as focused on saving people's souls she is comforting before their death. 


Maud begins a new job in an unnamed British seaside town in a hillside manor belonging to Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), a well-renowned artistic dancer who is now suffering from late-stage lymphoma. In her daily duties and with her obedience to a higher power, Maud's faithfulness fascinates and intrigues the faithless Amanda who becomes more consumed with living her final days in the full indulgence of everything and anything she wants. Maud becomes obsessed with saving Amanda's soul.


Writer/director Rose Glass takes lovely care of building her characters and working in the genre elements that create an atmosphere of doubt and unease. Maud's character is never wholly detailed with a back story or over-saturated with unnecessary pieces to push the film too far into a defined genre. It also never details the type of trust the viewer should put in Maud. It continuously makes you question Maud's purpose and mission, whether it's faith or fear that influences her choices or something more sinister, promoting her drastic changes in behavior. 


Morfydd Clark, playing Maud, contributes a compelling performance. The way her character transforms, at first offering narration into the specifics about her life and the relationship with her faith and then being overwhelmed with stomach pain and becoming entranced in spells that she connects as signs and connections from above. Clark handles all these transitions with ease, offering a multilayered portrayal that is devastating, deranged, yet also delicate. 


"Saint Maud" is a beautiful debut from an engaging creative voice. It's many different shapes of horror. It completely understands what it wants to portray, no scary monsters or spooky ghosts, but rather the questions of what exists beyond our recognition and the choice we must make in the pursuit of what we believe and put our faith within. "Saint Maud" is here for your cinematic soul. 


Monte's Rating

4.00 out of 5.00

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