Saint Maud, 2019 – ★★★★½

Mesmerizing and haunting, it is fascinating to look at Saint Maud through the dual lenses of mental illness story and religious/possession story. To me, the final shot of the film leans in the mental illness direction, but perhaps that’s because as an atheist, i’m inclined to believe that zealotry, especially at this heightened level, is dramatically informed by mental illness. Maud, in her desperation to belong and to feel purposeful embraces signs all the way down the rabbit hole of extremism. We are aware from the beginning that we are being shown a very unreliable story from an exceptionally unreliable narrator, so we therefore cannot trust anything she believes, and anything we are shown, regardless of how that may conflict with her belief. That is why the final shot is so very important, as I believe that is a moment where Maud achieves true clarity. Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle both give stunning performances from very different points of view and one feels that Amanda once believed similarly to Maud, if not in the same ideas, and her illness has shattered those beliefs. It is often easy for me as an atheist to dismiss the very concept of belief, but I feel that Saint Maud advises us to reflect that the belief is often far less dangerous than the believer.

I truly wish I could have seen this in theaters.

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