Review: A top-quality anti-crowdpleaser is quite lovely and stars Ethan Hawke
Even today, as he goes about whatever business Ethan Hawke generally goes about, he finds himself mistaken for Stephen Dorff. “These people come up, all nervous,” he told The Guardian recently, “and say, ‘Mr Dorff...’” In person, Hawke never wants to shatter the illusion, so shakes their hand and goes on his merry way. “You start realising how many fans Dorff has,” he laughs.
On screen, though, there can be no such confusion. Hawke’s career has been both eclectic and largely brilliant. Here, he is at his most subdued, monosyllabic even. His Everett, a grouchy Nova Scotia fishmonger who takes in Sally Hawkins’ arthritic artist, Maud Lewis, is one of his finest, and easily most restrained performances. But it still doesn’t hold a candle to hers.
Based on the artist’s real-life story – unloved by her family, she became a housemaid to said fishmonger before her acclaimed paintings, done as a hobby, turned her into a local sensation – the ever-excellent Hawkins is extraordinary. Crippled in quiet pain, hunched over her easel and gripping her brush with a determined grimace, Hawkins never overplays the physical, her eyes not bones hinting at the emotion beneath. It’s a dignified, Oscar-worthy turn in a slow-burn love story that refuses to try to make its characters easy. Which, of course, is what makes them compelling. The bottom line A top-quality anti-crowdpleaser. Quite lovely.