Thursday, October 1, 2009

Iron Maiden

La Nana/The Maid (2009) - Silva
 photo themaidlananapic.jpg
Raquel(Catalina Saavedra) has been working for the same Buenos Aires upper class family with 4 children for the last 23 years. She is a tough, no nonsense housemaid. From suffering a chronic headache and enormous house chores day in an day out, she has a fainting spell one day and her employer, Pilar, decides to hire another help. But Raquel is a little more than territorial when it comes to sharing her duties. It is hinted that she had another helper get fired.

After watching Headless Woman and reading about This film beforehand, I was sort of expecting another biting satire of Bourgeois life in the well to do Argentine society. Is it love she has for the family or is it that she is institutionalized after all these years? These questions turn out to be unimportant in the film. The Maid is more of a character study which is funny and warm without being coy or sentimental. Silva has an eye and ear for details and natural dialog that is very humanistic. Raquel favors the cute teenage older son of the family who is a chronic masturbator over the older daughter in college, of whom she sees as a threat(against what, we can only guess). All the tits and tats of domestic power struggle are often funny but not exaggerated.

After Raquel drives out 2 other 'competitors' with intolerable cruelty, she meets her match in Lucy(Mariana Loyola), a bespectacled younger woman with a winning smile and wholesome personality who is different in every aspect from her predecessors. They hit it off- uptight Raquel slowly opens up and we see her smiling. Lucy even invites her to spend christmas with her family in the country.

The Maid features one of my favorite movie endings in recent years. Slice of life that is both touching and real.