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LONDON 2019

Rose Glass • Director of Saint Maud

“I was interested in the idea of having a film where the central relationship took place inside someone’s head”

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- Cineuropa caught up with British helmer Rose Glass to talk about Saint Maud, her highly acclaimed debut film that has just screened at London

Rose Glass  • Director of Saint Maud

It’s been quite an exciting few weeks for Rose Glass since her acclaimed horror flick Saint Maud [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Rose Glass
film profile
]
debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. Just before her film played in competition at the recent London Film Festival, the British director won the £50,000 Filmmaker Bursary from IWC Schaffhausen. We talked to her to get the lowdown on her feature debut.

Cineuropa: What was the genesis of Saint Maud?
Rose Glass:
I started coming up with the idea when I was finishing a course at the National Film and Television School. I graduated around five years ago. It was initially a two-hander between a young woman and God, and I think she might even have been a nun at the beginning. I was interested in the idea of having a film where the central relationship took place inside someone’s head. I guess I’m always intrigued by the divide between the messed-up internal world that we have all got going on and what we present to the world.

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The film has a lot of horror elements; are you a horror geek?
I am a fan, but it’s not like horror is all I want to do or all I’m interested in. Rosemary’s Baby is my favourite film, and that’s a horror classic, I suppose – anything a bit dark and weird is my cup of tea.

Was Rosemary’s Baby an influence, then?
Not so much Rosemary’s Baby, but Repulsion was a more significant influence on Saint Maud. I like the tone and visual style of early Polanski, but I didn’t really think of it consciously in that way. I always knew that I wanted the film to be heightened and kind of fun. I wanted to put the audience inside Maud’s head, so it’s this very visceral, heightened, sensual ride, hopefully.

The opening hospital scene is devious and is filmed to make the audience completely unsure of who Maud is: is she a kindly nurse or a deadly murderer? What was your thinking?
We wanted to give a hint of a potential threat because Morfydd Clark is so sweet, demure and lovely – well, it seems so at first, anyway. I like the idea that the audience isn’t quite sure what to think about the protagonist for a long time. Do you trust them? Are they reliable or a danger?

Opposite Morfydd Clark is Jennifer Ehle as Amanda, whom Maud goes to nurse. Yet Amanda seems to bully Maud at times. What did you want to achieve with this relationship?
It depends what perspective you see it from. There is a bit where Amanda leads Maud on a little bit, where she thinks she is more on the same wavelength as her than perhaps she actually is. But she has no idea of how much Maud is taking in every little thing she is saying to her. I think Amanda is bored and lonely, and when Maud turns up, Amanda finds her interesting and slightly amusing, as Maud is an odd, serious young woman. And so Amanda is maybe toying with her a little bit for her own amusement, in a way, but I think it ultimately comes from a place of kindness.

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