Entertainment & Arts

Sally Hawkins film Maudie delights Toronto

Sally Hawkins in Maudie Image copyright TIFF
Image caption Sally Hawkins in Maudie

A film starring British actress Sally Hawkins about a painter with severe arthritis has had a rapturous reception at the Toronto film festival.

Maudie tells the true story of Maud Lewis, who overcame her disability to become one of Canada's best-known folk artists. She died in 1970, aged 67.

Hawkins couldn't attend the premiere on Monday as she was filming elsewhere in the city.

But she said in a message that Maud Lewis was the "role of a lifetime".

Hawkins gives an extraordinary performance in which she appears to physically diminish as the film goes on.

One review has already described it as "Oscar-worthy".

The film co-stars Ethan Hawke as the reclusive Everett Lewis, who hires the fragile Maud as his housekeeper.

As she covers the walls of his tiny house in Nova Scotia with her colourful paintings the pair fall into an unlikely romance.

Everett takes over the housework while Maud concentrates on selling her art.

Image copyright TIFF

Ethan Hawke, who plays Everett, said after the screening that he regarded Maud Lewis as a "ferocious feminist".

Hawke, who also starred in Toronto's opening night film The Magnificent Seven, said had first become aware of the screenplay after his wife found it on his desk and read it.

"I got home from doing a play one night to find her in tears," he recalled.

"I thought the worst, but she took the script and said, 'you have to do that movie'. I said, 'Okay, I'll read it.'

"And she said, 'I didn't say that. You have to do it'."

Irish director Aisling Walsh described the relationship between Maud and Everett as "a beautiful love story".

She urged the audience to discover more about Lewis's work, which often featured sunny outdoor scenes and cats.

The painted cabin where Lewis and Everett lived is now on display at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs until 18 September.

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