October 08, 2020
Morfydd Clark is superb as a troubled caregiver in this extraordinarily scary horror melodrama
Saint Maud review – nursing a nightmare of erotic intimacy | Peter Bradshaws film of the week
Last year, Morfydd Clark appeared in Armando Iannucci’s new version of David Copperfield playing both David’s mother and the woman he’s in love with – a Freudian-doppelganger performance so coolly understated that many didn’t realise it was happening, or quite why they found Clark’s appearance(s) so disquieting. Well, there’s nothing understated about her now, and what a sensational breakthrough in this extraordinary horror melodrama from first-time feature director Rose Glass. Clark gives an operatically freaky turn that knifed me in the kidneys, the way Catherine Deneuve did in Repulsion or Emily Watson in BREAKING the Waves. And her final split second on screen is the equivalent of brutally pulling out the knife to start the internal bleeding.
It’s a scary movie that is also a satirical nightmare about the physical and erotic intimacy of nursing. The setting is the seaside town of Scarborough, along whose seafront and garish arcade frontages Maud is in the habit of going for moody solo walks. She is an intense and lonely young woman living in a scuzzy bedsit, employed as a private agency nurse and palliative caregiver. She prays often, asking to be delivered from incessant stomach pains.
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