UK, 2019 Horror/Drama
Director: Rose Glass
Cast: Morfydd Clark (Maud), Jennifer Ehle (Amanda)
Faith to fanaticism level
It is a common situation that when a person suffers a tragic event to take refuge in faith. But when this person suffers from a weak and fragile psyche, it can take this faith to a dangerous level of fanaticism. This interesting premise is the one developed by the British creator Rose Glass, in her first feature film Saint Maude.
A divine purpose on earth
Maude is a home nurse that lives in a small town in England. She has constant conversations with God, and she feels her duty is to do His work on earth. In her new assignment, Maude has to nurse Amanda. Amanda is a former choreographer, a minor celebrity, who suffers from an incurable disease and has her days numbered. Although the two women have a pleasant initial approach: But slowly, and due to Amanda’s dissolute life even in her last days against Maude’s rigid ideology, the two women begin to clash.
After a major incident, Maud begins to have serious difficulties keeping her life in order. Past events that marked the life, coupled with her inability to communicate socially, gradually led her to fall into a deep and dark spiral of madness. Her episodes of self-flogging becoming more and more intense. Also, her fantastic visions are increasingly more often and powerful. Maud believes, that these punishments and signs are necessary to fulfill her divine purpose on earth.
To understand Saint Maude, we must understand from the beginning that the story is told through Maude’s experience. The viewers do not know if she is indeed having these religious experiences or if the story is using the resource of the unreliable narrator. It is an achievement of Glass’s script, that the story shows us, little by little and in due course, that it is the latter. Maude’s visions happen with greater frequency and intensity each time. But it is in the small, real details around her, that the spectator begins to learn previous events in her life that lead her to the situation she is now immersed in.
A real mental disorder
The film takes us by the hand to observe how Maude gradually falls into a fanatic madness. Glass based the story on psychological studies about people who claim to hear voices. This situation is very real. Maude suffers from temporal lobe epilepsy, in addition to what is called ecstatic seizures. These attacks are accompanied by hallucinations, but also by intense and positive feelings of pleasure, which can become euphoric and orgasmic. This feeling of inspiration that these people suffer usually has religious connotations attributed to them. It is believed that Joan of Arc suffered from this condition. Knowing this beforehand will make the experience of seeing Saint Maude that much more profound.
Several things done right
Morfydd Clark gives us a great performance as the unstable Maude. He knows how to reflect very well all the tribulations and conflicts that the character goes through. Jennifer Ehle also does well as the moribund and liberal Amanda. The two know how to interpret perfectly well the comings and goings in the relationship of the two characters. Also, we must mention the excellent cinematography of Ben Fordesman. He makes remarkable use of light and colors, giving an air of sadness and desolation to the entire theater. This reflects the state of mind of the two main characters, who although in different situations, deep sorrow is part of their lives. The special effects are relatively few, but well done.
Not a pleasant trip.
Certainly, Saint Maude is not a pleasant movie. But if it is a good movie. It is solid, with an excellent story, and very good acting and cinematography. But it is not for everyone. It’s not a scary story. What transmits to us is anguish and distress. Also, the story takes time to detonate, so it can despair impatient viewers. All in all, is an exceptional document and study of madness.
It is more than it seems. Shoking resolution. Great acting and conematography. Slow development may turn off impatient viewers,