For those who don’t know, A24 is an indie production company that has, for the past few years, been attracting attention like a magnet. Although it doesn’t have a signature style of its own, A24 is becoming known as one of the most important names is modern cinema. From Oscar-sweeping, emotionally charged dramas (moonlight, ladybird) to chilling, genre-bending psychological horror (most notably the work of Ari Aster and Robert Eggers) they have now gained such a reputation that anyone going to see an A24 film can be certain that it will be a completely unique experience.
Saint Maud is no exception. Possibly the most impressive directorial debut of the year so far, Saint Maud is one of those rare gems in which the ambitious style of the film seems to perfectly encapsulate the madness and instability of the character. Maud (Morfydd Clark, in what will hopefully become known as her breakthrough role) is a devout Christian, working as a nurse for a retired dancer dying of a chronic illness. Experiencing constant knocks and infuriating setbacks, she sees it all only as part of God’s great plan for her. Maud has the ability to ‘feel the presence’ of her God, ultimately leading to her sudden yet vast downward spiral.
Saint Maud showcases some of Britain’s most exciting upcoming actresses. Although it may not be the kind of performance to be accepted into the Oscars, Morfydd Clark’s blistering rendition of Maud will likely gain a place in pop culture.
No God is ever-present in the film. From beginning to end, this is truly hopeless cinema. Maud inflicts severe pain and trauma on herself with the certainty that it will save her. Meanwhile, the viewer asks: who is going to save her?
Saint Maud is perhaps the biblical epic of the digital age. Revelatory and shocking, don’t be fooled by its seemingly one-track character arc: this is an experience of titanic proportions. Saint Maud is a film that knows its influences. Friedkin’s The Exorcist, for one. It also unmistakably owes a debt to Satoshi Kon’s seminal thriller Perfect Blue, as well as Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 masterpiece Black Swan.
A stunning debut from director Rose Glass, and another success from A24, Saint Maud is a chilling, epic success.
I rate it five stars – it will leave you gasping for breath.