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SAINT MAUD (15, 84 min.) Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle, Turlough Convery, Lily Knight, Lily Frazer. Rose Glass directed.
In an ambitious feature debut by writer-director Rose Glass, the brightly lit arcades of an undisclosed British seaside resort experience a violent tug-of-war between faith and fanaticism.
Saint Maud, played brilliantly by Welsh actress Morfydd Clark in the lead role of the eponymous tormented soul, is a riveting portrait of religious fervor and sexual awakening.
Her porcelain features appear to float like a ghostly apparition in the all-pervading darkness of the screen, fixing us with a cold look that conveys perfectly and chillingly the resolve of a nurse who will follow silent orders to the bitter and bloody end.
“You must be the loneliest girl I’ve ever seen.”You must be the loneliest girl I’ve ever seen.
A willing accomplice, cinematographer Ben Fordesman conjures scenes of gloomily lit domestic drudgery that unexpectedly flicker with danger and make our skin prickle with apprehension.
By recording the emotional and mental deterioration of the protagonist from many viewpoints, some of which may be inaccurate, the lean script tightens the knot of nail-biting suspense.
Abandon all hope, peering through the distorted lens of glass.
After a traumatic event in a hospital, shy, emotionally uptight nurse Kate (Clark) converted to faith and renamed herself Maud.
She prays everyday, her commitment unwavering.
“I can’t shake the feeling that you must have saved me for something bigger than this,”I can’t shake the feeling that you must have saved me for something greater than this.
Maud leaves the NHS to work as a caregiver for the famous American dancer and choreographer Amanda Kohl (Ehle) in the private sector, whose happy days of hedonism and creative expression have ended with a terminal disease.
Amanda, with occasional visits from her lover Carol (Lily Frazer) and a bevy of sinful acolytes, wallows in resentment and remorse at a sumptuous seaside estate.
To Maud, whom she sarcastically refers to as “my little savior.” the ailing dancer channels her poisonous feelings.
The pious nurse claims that she has been chosen to rescue the blackened soul of Amanda.
On every step of Amanda’s road to atonement, Maud sears herself on a hearth and sticks pins through the soles of her shoes to feel exquisite waves of agony.
As truth and imagination deliver dizzying blows to each other in Maud’s twisted mind, the struggle between the nurse and the acid-tongued patient picks up steam.
In equal measure, Saint Maud confounds and disturbs, artfully navigating the warped psyche of the main character with deliberately timed bursts of aggression.
The score tugs at the nerves of composer Adam Janota Bzowski as much as the excellent cast, leaving no time to breathe between scenes of fateful self-delusion and despair.
KAJILLIONAIRE The Kajillonairer (12A, 105 min.)
The comedy about a family of petty criminals by artist and filmmaker Miranda July proceeds to investigate the human condition from an unpollutedly weird viewpoint.
Old Dolio Dyne (Evan Rachel Wood) and her parents Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa (Debra Winger) commit petty robberies in Los Angeles, who appear unwilling to show her even an ounce of warmth and compassion.
The family shares the spoils of each devious device, but the rent on a shabby apartment that acts as an operations base can not be afforded.
The clan’s hand-to-mouth life is infiltrated by a vibrant and bubbly outsider called Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), seeking to learn the tricks of the trade of the con man.
Initially, Old Dolio is jealous of the spirited intruder, who holds some of the attributes that she lacks.
Eventually, Melanie pushes Old Dolio to doubt her unorthodox and destructive upbringing.
I’m a woman (15, 116 min.).
Unjoo Moon writes and directs a biopic of the Australian singer-songwriter Helen Reddy who, with the feminist anthem I Am Woman, rose to worldwide fame.
Helen (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) arrives with her three-year-old daughter in New York in 1966 because a record deal was offered to her.