Floating, quiet and weightless, down the coastal pathway of the Scarborough seafront, Maud is a discarded devotee of God and Catholicism in a town devoid of any religious consciousness. A discarded leaflet for the religion, tumbling down the road to nowhere, at least she hopes she may be able to ‘save’ someone.
The central figure of Rose Glass’ biting exploration of blind faith, Maud (Morfydd Clark) is a fragile skeleton and a pious nurse, God’s lonely woman, carrying out her medical duties whilst ‘saving souls’ in the process. A private, live-in nurse, she is assigned to Amanda (Jennifer Ehle) a former dancer and choreographer whom Maud seems overly obsessed to ‘save’ and rid her of sin. An obsessive relationship grows into an unhealthy abscess, a pulsating idea that infects Maud’s mind, growing, shifting and morphing into something far darker.
Her thoughts and musings are punctuated by an inner monologue and voiceover narration, reflecting a fractured, fragile state of mind, reaching out for the opinion of God to answer questions she does not seem capable of answering herself. Though, in a town of such desolation, her religious convictions seem strangely admirable, despite the increasingly sinister intentions. At one time, Maud seems like a manic, psychotic devotee of God, and the next, like a lost lamb, an innocent altruistic individual who has simply walked too far from the flock.
“You must be the loneliest girl I’ve ever seen”
Amanda, Maud’s bed-ridden patient exclaims in what sounds as if could be her last words. It’s perhaps the most solemn, most powerful utterance in the whole film. At the heart of the story, Maud is a lonely individual, rejecting physical friendship for the heavenly love and presence of God himself. Though, this is, of course, blind faith that such a thing even exists. Despite her old friend, Joy, reaching out to Maud throughout the film, it is her relationship with her patient, Amanda which seems the most powerful, profound and almost plutonic. To Maud, she is a lost soul, destined for hell unless Maud herself can prevent it.
The relationship between these two characters, as well as the performances from both Morfydd Clark as Maud and Jennifer Ehle as Amanda, is the glue that holds the film together, forming a narrative as wholly believable as it is engrossing. Amused and intrigued by Maud’s Godly obsession, Amanda pokes and prods her philosophy, a cynical ‘aunt’ toying with another’s beliefs. Though Maud may be trying to absolve and convert Amanda, she is doing the very same thing, attempting to tug Maud down from her internal pedestal.
A quiet character study with a loud, and brutal excavation of faith, the tale of Saint Maud, is one that will leave you stunned in pensive reflection. Loneliness stems from the very root of the film, asking how an individual is supposed to identify with a world which fails to reciprocate any of your values. Maud detaches herself from this reality, locked into a tunnel-vision relationship with faith, leading to a fierce conclusion that dents director Rose Glass’ name into the upper-echelons of British filmmakers.