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  • Writer's pictureSteve

Saint Maud (2019)

Free eye-rolls for all of the atheists in the room. I see you there, at the back, sinning.

And who can blame them, really, for every time the subject of religion turns up in movies, rarely does it come up without some connotation of fear. Here, even piety is portrayed as not being very good for you. Still, we all love a good spooky jump or two. Why not blame the almighty for it?

Debut writer/director Rose Glass provocatively teases her audience with this uncomfortable and somewhat long-winded gaze into loneliness, dressed up as unhealthy devotion/obsession (delete as applicable)

The titular nurse Maud (Morfydd Clark) comes to privately care for ex-dancer Amanda (Jennifer Ehle) in her home. By this time, Maud is already of a mind that God can hear her, speaks to her and that she is dutifully doing God's work every day, caring for the sick and wherever possible, saving souls.

Both god-loving and god-fearing make for quite the well-intentioned zealot when given the opportunity and Maud is nothing if not devout in this regard.

"Never waste your pain."

Categorisation is a little tricky here, as you might imagine this is most comfortably placed in the horror genre, in the same Under The Skin shadowy creepiness that enveloped the whole feel of the project. Yet, just like that effort, the actual scares here are rare, considered and often more easy to digest in their real-world occurrences.

An unsettling score doesn't exactly fill the viewer with any kind of ease either, giving every scene an inevitable onset of worry and anxiety. This works to great effect as the visuals are often perambulatory, punctuated with sporadic scenes of jolting alarm.

Clarks' portrayal of Maud is fascinating to watch as she becomes more and more unhinged as her belief becomes more profound. A final scene that shouldn't really come as much of a surprise has been hailed as one of the films' iconic moments, but I would wager that this isn't nearly as concerning as what brought us to this point to begin with.

It's criminally short and leaves the viewer with more questions than they started with. We can guess that Glass' point was not to preach, an important point when trying to appear impartial. I'll let you read into it what you wish, but suffice to say there is no shortage of nuance and meaning to be found.


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