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Saint Maud (Drama, Horror) (2019)

 

Director: Rose Glass

Writer: Rose Glass

Stars: Morfydd Clark, Caoilfhion Dunne, Jennifer Ehle, Lily Frazer

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Working as a private nurse, Maud (Morfydd Clark) has been assigned to care for Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), an ex-dancer now bedridden due to lymphoma. Awaiting her unavoidable demise, Amanda tries to grow closer to her distant new nurse, the religiously fervent Maud.

Comparably short looking at most other feature films, Saint Maud is Rose Glass’ virgin project. As a drama/psychological horror, it’s a distinctly uncommon film that manages to appear different without being artsy.

From the moment the eccentric Maud appears on screen, there’s an unexpected quality to her; Morfydd Clark breathes life into the character that only she could’ve done, accompanied with her off-standish and anomalous behaviour comes her eerie religious perception. ‘’Saint Maud,’’ a subtly used title within the film, is such an uncanny approach to a religious subject. While zealotry and religious fanaticism is certainly nothing new, the way it presents itself in Rose Glass’s film is certainly nothing we’ve seen in the traditional spectrum before.

Following Maud through the entirety of the story, you get a strong feeling that not much is at it seems, going through the main character’s existential crisis’ strong sense of religion. While religion plays the most prominent parts, some subtle messages appear to present themselves in unusual supernatural ways. Glass manages to transfer the emotional trauma Maud seems to suffer so effectively that it almost feels like your own. Scenes where you almost seem trapped in Maud’s fractured mind play well with the worried elicited responses of the woman she cares for and those around her.

At a turning point in the film, it seems the plot loses itself. But then it only becomes more evident that it goes deeper into Maud’s psyche; her way of dealing with the world around her is to lose herself in the devotion to god, or at least her god. It is never quite clear what is truly the case as Maud refers to him as god or him/he, but perhaps the religious aspect is just another hidden meaning to her splintered soul.

The sole direction of following one character that Morfydd Clarke so intensely portrays feels like it’s only the tip of the iceberg of what we’re yet to see from writer/director Rose Glass. With the sharp camera movement sometimes lingering for a longer, more stretched out shot, ‘’Saint Maud’’ remains to be a short cinematic experience that is capitalized by the oppressive soundtrack. Such a psychological horror is not something we often get to experience.

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Verdict

Religious ardour embodied by a character in a way that hasn’t been done before.

7,8