The Two Reviews: Maudie and It

Maudie (2016)
Directed by Aisling Walsh, starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke

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Maudie is a small-budget Irish/Canadian film based on the life of Nova Scotia painter Maud Lewis (played by Sally Hawkins), and her long but volatile relationship with the illiterate, ill-at-ease and often belligerent Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke). The film begins with Maud as a young woman who has a life-long disabling condition of rheumatoid arthritis and who struggles for independence. She answers an ad in a local shop to be a live-in housemaid for the poor Lewis. They live a spartan existence in a tiny timber cottage in a remote part of Nova Scotia, several miles from the local village. Maud paints simple but colourful pictures of flowers, cats and birds, which come to the attention of the locals. Over the years Maud and Everett share some deeply tender moments together. Like many biographical films, this is an embellished story. Sally Hawkins’ performance is outstanding and deeply affecting, as is Ethan Hawke’s performance as the flawed Everett Lewis. This is not meant for a mainstream audience, but for lovers of thoughtful human dramas. It is an excellent film.

Reviewed by Robin Stevens – Rated 4/5

It (2017)
Directed by Andy Muschietti, starring Jaeden Lieberher and Bill Skarsgård

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It is a well-made and respectful adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name and it is much better than it has a right to be – we have come to regularly expect adaptations these days to be nothing more than tiresome money-spinners. The film hits the key themes of King’s book while updating it where necessary for modern audiences. There is a good element of humour. There is much skin-crawling domestic horror, which King writes so well. There is a terrifying supernatural element, which is well portrayed by Bill Skarsgård in his performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. There are believable relationships – the children, who are the heart of the story, are well written characters, deep and believable. You want them to succeed, they are not the simple, annoying knife fodder of lesser horror movies. More remarkable perhaps is that not one of the child actors are irritating, not one. It does not do anything new in terms of scares but what it does do, it does well. Fans of the King book should be pleasantly surprised and newcomers will enjoy the surprises and twists of the story. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Alan Matthews – Rated 4/5

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