Starring: Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle, Lily Knight
Director: Rose Glass
Running Time: 83 mins
Saint Maud is a British film about a nurse who goes to care for a wealthy woman with a terminal illness. However, as their relationship develops, she begins to develop a powerful obsession with her patient.
Although admittedly flawed in its execution, Saint Maud is an eye-catching and at times thrilling watch. With a powerhouse lead performance from Morfydd Clark and strong direction from Rose Glass, the film is striking throughout, even if it doesn’t quite grab you with a powerfully demented and intoxicating story.
There’s no denying Saint Maud is a good film, but it’s not quite perfect. What is perfect, however, is the lead performance from Morfydd Clark, who is absolutely electrifying at every moment here.
A real wolf in sheep’s clothing, Clark gives a performance that evolves in thrilling fashion as the film progresses, yet still sits on a knife-edge that makes her character unpredictable. Somehow, she’s able to portray both a seemingly innocent and a terrifying, vengeful young woman in the same story, without ever undermining the film’s story or her character’s development.
Clark starts off as the carer for a wealthy woman on the verge of death, and plays a strong role as a diligent if not highly-strung nurse. But the way she’s able to take subtle hints from the film’s first act and use them to completely transform herself in the blink of an eye is nothing short of remarkable, making her a magnetic, unnerving and mesmerising presence on screen right to the finish.
As well as Clark, director Rose Glass deserves immense credit for crafting a film that’s so eye-catching and distinct, even when its narrative is a little weak. You might think that Saint Maud falls into the category of style over substance, but it’s one of those films where the style makes up a lot of the substance, and that’s what helps it to be such an engaging watch.
Admittedly, its themes on religion and faith are less exhilarating than perhaps intended, and the screenplay doesn’t necessarily go far enough in terms of the psychological elements of the film’s story, meaning Saint Maud doesn’t have a really shocking, demented kick to it.
But with eye-catching cinematography and a bold vision from director Rose Glass, it’s an undeniably unnerving watch that can turn at any second, and that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. Granted, it lacks a bubbling, burning tension right from the start, but it does eventually manage to bring some arresting suspense into the mix too, albeit a little late.
Overall, I liked Saint Maud, but felt that it wasn’t quite as good as it could be. An eye-catching watch with a bold vision, unnerving drama and a striking atmosphere, it’s a captivating film from start to finish, brought to life by good direction and an amazing central performance. However, its themes are less than exhilarating, and it fails to really inject a sense of shock and fear into you by not going far enough with some of its darker ideas. So, that’s why I’m giving Saint Maud a 7.5.