Saint Maud dwells on a very thin line that goes in between delusion and reality. It is blurry and you often are unable to figure out the exact point where the reality ends and delusion starts. Often the person who is being irrational doesn’t know it. From his or her perspective everything seems to be perfectly in sync with reality.
If you see Saint Maud for the first time you would see it as a figment of imagination that uses faith to channel itself. But when you view it closely you realize that there is a lot of hidden information that the director secretly passes on to you. The dots of an underlying conspiracy are always there but it is for you to find them and connect all of them together. It is then you make deductions about what the director wants to say. And yes I said deductions because the director has left it up to you to perceive it in your own way.
Rose Glass has directed the film and Morfydd Clark plays the protagonist, Maud.
‘Saint Maud’ Plot Summary
Maud is a nurse who is given the responsibility to look after a cancer patient named Amanda. Amanda knows that it is the last few days of her life and she wants to live it. No matter how degenerate her last wishes might sound but nonetheless she wants to go ahead and cherish those last months.
Maud on the other hand has a rather zany and queer persona. We get to know that she is a recent convert and that she takes her faith very seriously. She says that she talks to god. And Amanda takes it as the innocence of a young girl who is pure-hearted and is very religious. Slowly you understand that Maud and fanaticism reside in very close quarters. She almost intimidates Carol, who is sexually involved with Amanda, to stop coming and seeing her. One feels at that moment that maud might be jealous of them both having a relationship. But that is not true. Maud is operating on a whole new level. She feels that she can save Amanda’s soul. She feels that she can become her savior so that Amanda could die in peace. Maud waits for a divine intervention to tell her how to go about it. But it never comes.
She goes from a stage of severe asceticism to being a complete sybarite. In the last 15 mins of the film, it seems that the world is sinking into a deep and dark abyss. But Maud gathers herself and hears the divine call. When everything starts to feel simplified, the director just delicately nudges down a two-second clip that shatters all your assumptions leaving you blindsided and completely perplexed.
Rose Glass does leave a lot of hints in between the narrative. The film opens with a shot of Maud sitting next to a dead patient. We know that some tragedy had occurred in the past which led to a patient dying. Maybe that is the reason that she turns herself into blind faith. We get hints that she is mentally troubled as she can see things that people can’t. Though she feels that it is actually happening and since we see the story from her perspective we also believe in what Maud believes in. Truth is just a perspective they say and Glass coerces us to believe that Maud’s viewpoint is the reality.
It is fictional but at the same time, it is so close to reality. Our faith was never supposed to be an instrument for instilling fear. But we did reduce it to that. In an ideal sense, yes there was the reason behind faith but today we have given it our own interpretation and we justify it by horrendously wrong reasons. It was supposed to unite all but today it separates even you from yourself. And what it does to our “civil society”, well that’s not hidden from anybody.
Glass revealed in an interview that the character of Maud believes that what she is doing is in perfect alignment with her faith but she is just a troubled human being who is in dire need of help.
Maud cannot be a part of society no matter how much she tries. Society abandoned her and ceased to take notice of a troubled girl. In the end, Maud indulges in all sorts of bodily pleasures just because she felt ousted by her own God. But then we see her god talks to her finally. She goes back to Amanda’s house to save her soul. It gets revealed to her there that Amanda never thought of her as an actual savior. She was just playing along as she felt quite lonely in the last days of her life.
Maud kills her as she sees Amanda get personified into a Demon. She then walks to the beach and puts herself on fire. We see that people are kneeling and at last she has coalesced into this divine power. But then we see an image that stays for a blink of an eye, where Maud is actually burning and wailing in pain.
What it suggested was that all this was in her mind. Noone actually talked to her. There was no divine sound. She was just a troubled human being in need of help. She wanted to make the world purer. Society never accepted her. She always dwelled in this isolated place filled with misery. She is disregarded just like Travis Bickle and Arthur Fleck. The only difference is that she feels that she is on a divine mission and God himself has sent her to be this voice of eternal truth.
Rose Glass is able to mold Saint Maud into a horror film that is more than the jump scares. It is an uncomfortable and riveting ride that you wouldn’t want to miss.
Saint Maud is available on Netflix.
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