Maud has a calling, to help those facing terminal illness on their way, to ease their physical pain at the end and to prepare their souls for the next step as they pass beyond the veil and into the loving light of God, and with single-minded devotion and pious self-deprivation she devotes herself to her patient, the celebrated choreographer Amanda Köhl.
Suffering from stage four lymphoma of the spinal cord, a particularly cruel and debilitating fate for a former dancer, Amanda remains unbroken, welcoming friends to her home in a downmarket seaside resort, donning her maquillage and her robes and drinking to oblivion as she toasts the old days when she contorted for art rather than in pain, but Maud wishes to guide her in a different direction.
A psychological horror and dramatic character study written and directed by Rose Glass who hosted the preview screening at FrightFest at the Glasgow Film Festival, God’s love may be unconditional but Saint Maud’s is not, passing judgement while meekly wishing for “something greater than this for herself.”
In barely illuminated rooms adorned with crucifixes, only her face visible as though in some renaissance painting of beatific adoration, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies‘ Morfydd Clark is live-in palliative care nurse Maud, possessed of a belief so pure and profound that she believes her acts are kindness as for her own salvation she sabotages the last happiness of Amanda, RoboCop‘s Jennifer Ehle.
A proud and beautiful woman even as she faces death, Amanda is possessed of her own defiant strength but her patience is not limitless as her would-saviour oversteps the boundaries of friendship and professional conduct, turning a surprise birthday party into a confrontation between the metaphorical immovable object and unstoppable force.
Compelling but devoid of comfort, an absence as conspicuous as the God she calls on for intercession, Saint Maud is dominated by Clark and Ehle, one tenaciously holding to the grandeur of her life and the other in the exquisite throes of her own self-inflicted suffering, a long walk in the painful shoes of one cast adrift from what little she has whose identity has been formed around the supposed virtues of sacrifice and martyrdom.
Saint Maud is currently scheduled for release in April in the US and early May in the UK