Maudie
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for some thematic content and brief sexuality.
Theater: Edina.

 

While it’s far from timeless drama, this wistful character study of a lonely woman and a lonely man who find each other in coastal Nova Scotia has a winning, twee charm. Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke star as the kind of drab, plain people that movie stars rarely portray, and they help the characters gain a warm shine in each other’s company. It’s shamelessly sentimental, but it polishes the true story it is based on until it burns in the mind.

Hawke plays Maud Lewis, a noted Canadian painter whose nostalgic glimpses of sailors, wildlife and nature slowly raised her from backwoods obscurity to a kind of Grandma Moses folk art fame. The film’s story and underdog characters are as naive and sincere as her acclaimed work. Hawkins goes full Little Old Lady in the role, playing shy, shunned Maud with her gaze downward, shoulders clenched and hopes high.

Hawke is crude yet strangely gentle and sensitive as her monosyllabic life partner, Everett. The rough-hewn, socially awkward fish peddler hired her as the live-in housekeeper for his small, rural cabin, accepting her compulsive hobby painting of the building with flowers and butterflies without complaint. While their relationship is rocky, it grows beyond platonic companionship and eventually he decides that they should marry. Settling for each other, the two make a fine team.

The film follows her in years of struggle, as she lives in poverty with Everett, selling her works for a few dollars apiece at a local store before turning their home into a tiny gallery. The moral is that no matter how inhibited and inferior a wallflower may appear, her inner life innately deserves respect. With no schooling in art and a brush hand limited by rheumatoid arthritis, Maud creates simple, beautiful images as naturally as songbirds chirp.
Colin Covert

Despicable Me 3
⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: PG for mild action and rude language.

 

This animated adventure is just a stop on the inevitable way to “Despicable Me 4.” As a couple of hours of kidtertainment, you could do worse, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Two new characters are introduced. Balthazar Bratt, voiced by Trey Parker, is the antagonist, a washed-up child actor from the ’80s with a serious ax to grind against the industry that rejected him as a pimply, pubescent teen. The other newcomer is Dru, Gru’s long-lost twin brother (returnee Steve Carell doing double duty).

After losing their jobs, Gru, wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and their girls head to Fredonia to meet Dru, the head of the family pig farming business, which is actually a front for super-villainy, except Dru is terrible at it. Eventually, they have to unite to fight Balthazar, who is intent on destroying Hollywood with bubble gum and lasers. It’s wacky but somehow dull at the same time.
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service