Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Saint Maud (2019)


Streaming Services: Amazon Prime, Hulu
Movie Name/Year: Saint Maud (2019)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
Length:  84 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Escape Plan Productions, Film4, BFI Film Fund, A24, Diaphana Films, Elevation Pictures, M2 Films, StudioCanal UK, Epix, Sony Pictures España, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Stage 6 Films
Director: Rose Glass
Writer: Rose Glass
Actors:  Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle, Lily Frazer, Carl Prekopp, Faith Edwards, Jel Djelal, Lily Knight, Marcus Hutton, Noa Bodner, Rosie Sansom, Takatsuna Mukai, Turlough Convery
Blurb from IMDb:  Follows a pious nurse who becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient.

Cat’s Point of View:
Saint Maud is one of the many unfortunate films that experienced several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It had registered as lucky #13 on my Top 20 Movies to Look Out For in July 2020 list, though didn’t see wide release until February 2021.
Some poor reviews of Saint Maud seem to stem from misunderstandings regarding the nature of the plot leading to disappointment. The trailer gave a slightly different impression to some, apparently. I can’t say that I understand that backlash because this movie delivered pretty much what I was expecting in the wake of the trailer. The only thing I seemed to have misunderstood was the fact that Maud was a nurse and not a nun. I suppose I confused British nursing garb for a nun’s habit. It’s neither here nor there – it ultimately didn’t change my opinion of the film.
I can see how it would be easy to confuse other aspects, though. After my initial watch-through of the trailer, I also believed that stigmata might also be involved with this movie. Apparently, my inference was somewhere off in left field so I don’t feel I’m spoiling anything by clarifying that is not the case.

Honestly, the only thing I was confused about regarding Saint Maud was the setting. We often see references to Coney Island, as Maud passes by this one brightly lit place that might be an arcade on several occasions. The name is there on a giant sign. It’s apparent, however, by everyone’s accents in the film that this takes place in Britain somewhere. So my only disconnect was the jarring notion of thinking ‘wait, isn’t that in New York?’ I digress…
Some serious kudos go out to Rose Glass (Storm House, The Silken Strand, A Moment of Horror) for her film writing and directorial debut. She had several shorts under her belt prior to Saint Maud, and she certainly made a big leap bringing us this particular movie as her first full-length feature. Some of the unnecessarily lengthy filler might be attributed to her freshman offering, but otherwise, it was a sound – and profound beginning to a promising next step in her career. I’m interested in seeing where she goes from here.

The cast was phenomenal. Jennifer Ehle (The Fundamentals of Caring, Vox Lux, The Professor and the Madman) captured the essence of a former starlet fading in the grip of cancer, consumed by her vices and drinking in as much life as possible before the final curtain. Morfydd Clark (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Crawl, The Personal History of David Copperfield) was eerie in her portrayal of Maud. She gave me chills with her feverish performance that had to be physically demanding, even though this was far from an action movie. She brought the zealotry of her character to blazing life.
In the end, I still have so many questions. Saint Maud plays out on a psychological level more than anything. Are we really witnessing a religious experience and a dance with the supernatural or divine? Is this all taking place in Maud’s head? Did her psychological trauma manifest her beliefs? I loved how the ending played to both scenarios and left me wondering as I watched with my jaw dropped.
My best suggestion is to try and watch this film without any preconceived notions – maybe just toss the trailer right out of your mind. It’s solid, if feeling a little lengthy, and something interesting and new for fans of psychological horror.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 93%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 66%
Metascore – 83%
Metacritic User Score – 6.8/10
IMDB Score – 6.7/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5
Movie Trailer:

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