Australian Council on Children and the Media

Maudie

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Not recommended under 14 due to lack of interest for young children, sexual references, and disturbing scenes and themes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Maudie
  • a review of Maudie completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 28 August 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 14 Not recommended due to lack of interest for young children, sexual references, and disturbing scenes and themes
Viewers 14 and over OK for this group, but with issues parents may wish to discuss

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Maudie
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and sexual references
Length 116 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Maud Dowley (Sally Hawkins) suffers from crippling arthritis and due to a birth defect has always struggled to walk normally. She is often told by her aunt Ida (Gabrielle Rose) and brother Charles (Zachary Bennett) that she is incapable of looking after herself and society seems to consistently send the message that she will never amount to much. Maud, however, has a strong spirit, a determination to do what she loves and a deep desire to make her way in the world regardless of whether or not anyone else thinks she can. She believes in herself and in her own self-worth.

When Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke), a rough, loner and a local fisherman puts up an advertisement at the local grocery store requiring a live in maid, Maud applies for the job. When no one else applies Everett gives her the job but treats her terribly. Maud becomes ostracized by her family as everyone says she is living there as his love slave.

Attempting to bring a little happiness to her new life Maud begins to paint again. She starts with the windows and walls of the house and quickly moves onto cards and pieces of scrap from the wood pile. A chance encounter with Sandra (Kari Matchett), a customer of Everett’s who is visiting from New York, helps Maud to begin selling her paintings and leads to her becoming something of a local celebrity. Newspapers feature articles about Maud and her art, she and Everett appear on TV, and the President of the United States purchases some of her work.  Countless others  come to their quiet corner of Nova Scotia to see this famous artist and buy her paintings.

As time goes by Everett’s feelings soften towards Maud, they marry and a deep love and affection begins to grow between them. Ultimately they both find happiness with each other though it is not as long lived as either would have liked.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The themes of sexism and chauvinism run throughout the film. Maud, for the majority of her life is put down and made to feel inadequate and incapable, firstly because she walks with a limp and secondly because she is a woman. There are secondary themes running just below the surface of abandonment and separation. Everett who was raised at an orphanage has a fear of being left and pushes people away as a result. An illegitimate baby girl that Maud gave birth to years earlier was sold by her brother and aunt as soon as she was born while Maud was made to believe that the baby had died. This event haunts her.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Maud tells Everett how some local kids throw stones at her.
  • Everett pounds on tables and counters when frustrated or angry.  He also throws things down and screams at Maud.
  • Everett hits Maud hard in the face and yells at her to go inside

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • At the end of the film Maud suffers a terrible attack of emphysema and makes horrible gurgling and raspy sounds as she collapses to the floor trying to call for Everett. Her face contorts and her body is more misshapen and arthritic at this point. Young viewers may be disturbed by the sudden intensity of the scene.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Maud kills a chicken in order to make a soup. The scene cuts out with the chicken’s head on a piece of wood right before Maud slams the hatchet down on the chopping block.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are a number of sexual references in the film, including:

  • Maud tells her aunt that she went to the club to find some “friends’ her aunt retorts “remember what happened the last time that you found “friends.”
  • There are references to Maud’s reputation and the illegitimate birth of a daughter.
  • The townspeople talk about Maud being Everett’s sex slave.
  • A friend of Everett’s comments on their living situation and Maud responds that they like “being cosy”.
  • When Everett lies on top of Maud in bed and undoes his pants she tells him she “doesn’t want to get in trouble again and that if he wants to do that then they should get married first”. Everett stops his advances.
  • When Maud makes the same sort of advances to Everett in bed he turns his back on her and says “I’d rather stick it in a tree.”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity in the film but Maud and Everett are seen in bed on a number of occasions and at one stage it appears that they are making love, although they also both appear to be fully clothed.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Maud is a smoker. She smokes in a number of scenes throughout the film and ultimately dies of complications arising from her use of cigarettes.
  • Maud is shown in a night club drinking a bottle of beer.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • There is frequent use of the words “idiot” and “stupid.” and “arse” is also used on three occasions.
  • Maud is called a cripple a number of times. Everett repeatedly compares Maud to a dog, saying that she is worse than one and listing her below the chickens in the hierarchy of household importance.

In a nutshell

Maudie is a slow paced, possibly romantic, drama based on the real life story of Maud Lewis. It is not a feel-good movie: many scenes are both confronting and overwhelmingly sad at the same time. There is however a sense of hope that permeates the film as a whole and it is likely to appeal to more mature audiences who will appreciate the stellar performances given by both Hawkins and Hawke.

Because of lack of interest for young children, sexual references, and disturbing scenes and themes, the film is not recommended for children under 14 and it raises issues which parents of older teens may wish to discuss.

The main messages from this movie are to be true to yourself and that true happiness and beauty can be found anywhere.

Parents may wish to discuss why Maud stayed with a man who treated her so badly, and that although Everett eventually grew to love Maud, this is not always the case. Physical, psychological and verbal domestic violence are not acceptable and victims should be advised to seek help.

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