Film Review: Saint Maud

Writer-director Rose Glass’ Saint Maud is a unnerving and intense gothic thriller. The filmmaker has delivered an atmospheric and striking debut.

Maud, a private nurse, is sent on an assignment to care for a terminally ill woman. Maud is a pious young woman, and becomes preoccupied with saving her patient’s soul…

Saint Maud concentrates primarily on a nurse and her relationship with a terminally ill patient. The backdrop provides the perfect setting for this exploration of psyche, religious fervour, and obsession. 

The focus on Maud alone is a wise move from Rose Glass. Every sequence features the protagonist; the other characters do not exist outside of Maud’s line of sight. That is not to say we see things from her point of view; more often than not the viewer sees Maud as she looks at these characters. Glass situates the viewer observing Maud as she observes others. 

The opening sequence is striking, and functions effectively at pulling viewers in. There is an unnerving feeling throughout, which is intesified by Glass’ choice of shot and the highly effective sound design. The setting also brings forward a sense of isolation and hopelessness. 

The study of Maud is a gradual one. Glass reveals a little more about the protagonist as the narrative progresses. She is a fascinating character; one that becomes increasingly disturbed in the second half of Saint Maud. The themes of obsession and mania are explored in an interesting fashion. Glass wisely eschews providing rationale for the irrational. 

Morfydd Clark delivers a brilliant central performance. Her intensity is perfect for the role of Maud. Jennifer Ehle is also great as Amanda. Saint Maud is a memorable feature debut from Rose Glass. Looking forward to see what the filmmaker does next. 

Saint Maud is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival on October 2019.

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