NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Andrea
The film Maudie (Sally Hawkins) is a true story about Maud Dowley who was born in 1903 in Nova Scotia. She suffered from rheumatoid arthritis all her life. She and her mother painted Christmas cards. When her parents died, they left the house to Maud’s brother, Charles (Zachary Bennett) who sold it, so she had to go live with her cranky Aunt Ida (Gabrielle Rose). They didn’t get along well, especially after Aunt Ida told Maude that in her youth when she got pregnant out of wedlock, her baby was born deformed, so they buried it. Maud never saw her baby.
To get away from her aunt and find independence Maud saw an ad for a live-in maid. She limped to the tiny house where Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) lived. He fished and pushed a cart around selling his fish. The house he lived in was a very small one room wooden structure. He told Maud he would take her in on a trial basis and that she would have to cook and clean for her room and board. She asked for 25 cents a week (so she could buy art supplies). She smoked cigarettes constantly, even as she painted.
Everett treated Maud terribly. Once he told her, “There’s me, and then the dog, then the chickens, then you.” She asked where she was supposed to sleep and he said on the bed with him in the loft. She balked. He told her that when he grew up in the orphanage, he had to sleep in a bed with six other kids.
His first meal by Maud was turnip soup that he complained about. The next day she chased down a chicken, and before she killed it, she kept saying, “I’m sorry,” to the chicken. Everett liked the stew and didn’t complain she killed one of his chickens.
One night in bed, Everett tried to have sex with Maud. She said, “If you want to do that, you’ll have to marry me first.” He grunted and rolled over. When a friend of Everett's asked about the sleeping arrangements, Maud said they were “cozy.” Everett was enraged and gave her a whack in the head. She sat at the table in the house and found a can of blue paint. She painted some flowers on the wall. She asked if he wanted her to leave. They stayed together and eventually got married. Everett started to treat her a little better.
Maud started painting the walls and doors in the house. Everett protested but accepted it. A young summer visitor to the area named Sandra (Kari Matchett) saw Maud’s art and offered to buy a card and a painting. Everett set the price and later Maud paints on anything she could find. You see Everett peeling potatoes while she paints on wood boards. All of her paintings she said she just made up in her head. Considering the pain, she must have endured; her artwork is very cheery and colorful. She said, “I love a window. The whole of life already framed, right there.”
One day Everett says something horrible to Maud, and she gets out of the truck and limps all the way to Sandra’s summer home. She stays there a while until Everett comes to get her. He just tells her, “You could do better than me.” And Maud replies, “I got everything I want with you.”
Maud’s aunt comes to see her and wants Maud to come visit her. She is ill and dying. Maud goes, and the aunt confesses that her baby was not born deformed. She didn’t think Maud could take care of the baby so they gave the baby girl away.
Everett on his own found out where Maud’s child was living and drove her there. Maud just looked at her daughter from a distance but didn’t approach. She was satisfied to know she was alive and not deformed. She was married and lived in a nice home. Maud was happy the girl was even pretty.
Everett put up a sign by their little house “Paintings for Sale.” People stopped by to buy Maud’s artwork which became very popular as Canadian Folk Art. A TV crew came to their house to interview Maud. Everett did have to make a cranky comment that when he took her in he didn’t expect a circus at his door. But he liked the money. Richard Nixon bought two of Maud’s paintings.
When Maud was 67, she coughed badly and grew weaker. Her body was showing the ravages of the arthritis. A doctor came to the house and told her she had emphysema. When it got really bad, Everett took her to the hospital, and she was failing. Everett sat there looking at her and said, “I don’t know why I ever thought you weren’t perfect."