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Review: Saint Maud – “A highly original UK cult classic in the making”

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Released in the UK on the 9th of October, Saint Maud is the first full-length feature written and directed by Rose Glass and stars Morfydd Clark (His Dark Materials) and Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty).

Born again Christian, Maud (Clark), is a slight and quiet palliative carer – looking after people nearing the end of their life – who lives in a cockroach-infested bedsit in Scarborough. She has what she believes to be a direct relationship with Jesus and as well as practising self-flagellation, she reaches states of orgasmic religious ecstasy through prayer.

When Maud is assigned to look after Amanda (Ehle), a retired renowned dancer on her deathbed, the famous woman is at first amused by the lonely and pious girl, pretending to be interested in salvation and treating her nurse more like a housemaid. Flattered by the attention and excited at the possibility of saving Amanda, Maud becomes highly possessive of her and wards off Amanda’s hard-partying ex-lover, wanting to keep her for herself.

When Amanda discovers this she sacks Maud and the young zealot finds herself increasingly repulsed by the world and starting to lose her grip on reality. Maud has a dark secret and as her feelings for Amanda descend into a dangerous obsession, she will do absolutely anything to save her soul, and Clark gives a worldie of a performance as the timid yet awfully in control martyr confident and unwavering in her faith – no matter the outcome.

Rose Glass’s direction is immaculate and she does not put a frame wrong. Every shot makes us feel something and is there for a reason. Glass skillfully manages to both put us in Maud’s spikes-lined shoes so we empathise with her as well as make us terrified at the ever-increasingly levels of her derangement. This reaches a brilliantly concocted conclusion when, as an audience, we experience an almost revelationary moment and question our own interpretation of everything that has happened.

The script unravels at a pace that keeps the tension and mystery heightened throughout before going places we could have never predicted, and the immersion and revulsion is heightened by The End of the Fxxxing World’s cinematographer Ben Fordesman, who utilises a Khondji-esque washed-out colour palette of ochre and dirty green, broken up by the lights and neon of Scarborough’s faded seaside glamour.

Full of chilling moments, absolutely heartstopping scenes, and culminating in an absolutely devastating finale, Saint Maud is thrilling and frightening – a highly original UK cult classic in the making that is elevated by Morfydd Clark’s stunning central performance and Rose Glass’ immaculate direction.

Saint Maud is released in the UK on the 9th of October.

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