Saint Maud (2019) written and directed by Rose Glass.

‘You are the loneliest girl I’ve ever met,’ Amanda (Jennifer Ehle) tells (Saint) Maud (Morfydd Clark).

Amanda is on end-of-life care at her beach home in run down Scarborough. Maud is her live-in nurse. She takes care of her. A servant in the old fashioned sense in that she cooks her meals, feeds her, puts her to bed and gets her up in the morning. Administers (from the word minister) her medication. Maud is a trained nurse, an angel, but she’s agency. She lives in a grotty bedsit in the town. Something unspecified happened in her last job, and that kind of put Maud off the rails.

She talks to God, and with voice-over we hear her thoughts and what she is saying. Amanda’s had a life. She used to be a world-renowned dancer. But that life is gone, although she’s not yet dead. A thread of existence. She calls Maud, ‘her saviour’ as they prop each other up and gives her an artistic book as recognition of their ambiguous relationship.

Maud’s clinging onto existence too. And she takes that ironical statement literally. For example, she tries to stop Amanda’s friend, lover and prostitute Carol (Lily Fraser) from visiting her. She tries to warn Carol off, and thinks she’s succeeded. But she also sneaks a look at them flirting and making love. A voyeuristic element with homoerotic undertones.

But everything about Maud is shutting down as her belief in God grows, she mortifies her flesh be cutting herself and putting spikes into the shoes she walks on. She makes an altar of her lonely life and her mission to save Amanda, becomes a reason for being.

Rose Glass’s claustrophobic script raises the ante and the denouement is both a relief and burden. Wonderful storytelling, it allows the viewer into the Saintly, or mentally deranged, world of the outcasts in our throwaway society.  

Dylan Thomas on  His Birthday

Dark is a way and light is a place,

Heaven that never was

Nor will be ever is always true.

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