Review for Saint Maud
Maud is a young nurse, sent to look after cancer patient called Amanda after the last patient she had died. Amanda is a cynical ex-dancer and choreographer confined to a wheelchair and the spritual Maud believes that it is her duty to save her soul. This is something that Amanda does not believe in and after a confrontation she fires Maud who then falls into drink and sex which it seems is how she reacts when life gets difficult. What this leads to Maud’s desire to punish herself and try to save Amanda leading to a very grim end.
There are times when I see the reviews and the hype for a film and then afterwards feel slightly deflated. This is one of those days. Much like the Oscar-winning A Shape of Water or the critically acclaimed Hereditary, Saint Maud is a film that is on almost every critics Top Ten List. I watched this film and was utterly perplexed by this and there is a part of me that really is questioning whether I know what a good film is anymore.
Now, I will say this film looks amazing and for an independent film and a debut Feature by Writer/Director Rose Glass, I was surprised by how competent the film looks in regards to shot composition, editing, score and the visuals. The acting, mainly by Morfydd Clark as Maud and Jennifer Ehle as Amanda is fantastic and as a duo there interactions are electric.
However, this film is bizarre and not very enjoyable. I watched very listless and despite use of Voice-over, it never really added much and despite Glass’s comment about it being compared to Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle I didn’t connect with the character like that one. By the end I didn’t understand why the character was the way they were and more importantly why they were doing what they were doing. There is very little development and it is easy to add your own subtext, but by doing this it mainly demonstrates how little was done within the film itself.
By the end, I was very confused (which I had no real issue with), but I was also left with far more questions than I wanted. Now, I have watched films in the past where I have spent time questioning what has happened, but a lot of the time I at least enjoyed the process of finding it out, but with this film it left me feeling a little empty. When I have read the other reviews I keep seeing phrases like ‘atmosphere’, ‘tension’ and the film, being called ‘a horror’. Apart from the out of nowhere ending which could have been amazing it instead felt like such a twist that even M Night Shyamalan would be shaking his head at it.
There are a number of small featurettes regarding Creating the World, Maud and Amanda and Constructing the Scene. Of these only the Constructing the Scene was worth watching as it showed the creative process which was a bit more interesting. This, along with the Audio Commentary by Rose Glass and the Editor Mark Towns had its moments, though a lot of it involved them talking about how the film was made. It didn’t really explain the film like it should have done.
The Q&A with Rose Glass was fine in general and if you are a new filmmaker it has some interesting points, but not the most entertaining watch.
Saint Maud has clearly found an audience and I am sure that those who have enjoyed the film have legitimate reasons and as I said it is a very strong film. However, the use of ‘horror’ as a tag may have been wrong and the lack of character development to make me care about what happened makes it a little boring at times. By the end it was a film that I didn’t want to return to and a pray that someone can explain to me why everyone loves it.