The Maid (Chile/Mexico; 95 min.)


directed by:Sebastián Silva
starring:Catalina Saavedra, Claudia Celedón, Alejandro Goic, Andrea Garcia-Huidobro, Mariana Loyola, Mercedes Villaneuva, Anita Reeves, Augustín Silva
La Nana
 

Bruce says: "Sebastián Silva follows the adage that one should write about what one knows.  THE MAID tells the story of his family’s maid during the time he was growing up and was filmed in the actual house where the inspiring events originally occurred.  In THE MAID Raquel (Catalina Saavedra) has been with the family for 20 years.  She has raised the children and dealt with every family crisis all the while maintaining the house in impeccable fashion.  Lucas (Augustín Silva) the middle child is Raquel’s favorite and she spoils him brazenly.  The older daughter, the eldest of three children claims 'Raquel hates me.'  That does not seem too farfetched when we see Raquel vacuuming energetically outside the girl’s bedroom door early in the morning on a day when she wishes to sleep in.  Raquel seems to have a demonic spirit.  She tells the girls, 'No snacks,' when it is obvious they should get them.  A young female visitor speaks up and says, 'You’re just the maid.'  Apparently in her house the kids get what they want.

"Raquel does the housework with a hang-dog look on her face.  She is put out by every request.  Her morning routine is always the same:  reluctantly turning off the alarm, showering, tidying up her room, dressing the children, and delivering breakfast to the parents in their bed.  The years of work have taken their toll on Raquel and she develops what looks like serious medical problems although the doctors cannot pinpoint the source of her dizziness, headaches and nausea.  Perhaps she is overworked concludes Pilar (Claudia Celedón) the mistress of the house.  A second maid, Mercedes (Mercedes Villaneuva), is hired.  This does not sit well with Raquel who sabotages Mercedes at every turn including locking her out of the house for long periods of time.  Before long Mercedes is history, replaced by Sonia (Anita Reeves). Sonia is a tough cookie but fares worse than Mercedes.  At this point the film is in danger of becoming a one-note samba, but not for long.  Enter Lucy (Mariana Loyola) the third assistant maid.  She, too, gets locked out and abused.  But Lucy is not a professional maid and she does not take life or work so seriously.  Lucy is mildly amused by Raquel’s behavior.  When Raquel gets fainting spells, Lucy takes care of her.  The turning point is when Lucy invites Raquel to her family village for the Christmas holidays.  All boundaries are obliterated when the two go nude sun-bathing.  Back in Santiago Lucy decides to quit and return to her family.  The news is not well received by Raquel.  Can she return to coping with the family on her own?

"Maids in Chile work like slaves getting one day off every 15 days, an exploitation of sorts.  Although maids can leave any time they want, most have nowhere to go.   They are alone in the world.  Raquel is typical as she is a prisoner of herself, not allowing herself to love or be loved.  That is evidenced early on in the film when the family throws Raquel a surprise birthday party.  She is unmoved by the sentiment and focuses on the clean-up afterwards in spite of the mistress of the house offering to do the clean up.  Raquel stoically refuses assistance.    The good news is that THE MAID has been well received in Chile and may be responsible for some new laws governing working hours for domestic help.  4 cats   

"THE MAID was screened as part of the New Directors/New Films festival sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and MoMA.)"

 
Diane says: "Which is responsible for making this Chilean maid so miserable--the system or herself? At times a horror film, at other times a psychological study or a critique of the bourgeouisie, THE MAID is filmed in cramped shots that reflect the live-in domestic's constricted life. Interesting that Bruce noted that this is a personal story for the director. I bet it's his character--the middle son, the only family member who pays attention to Raquel's feelings --whom I'll be nom'ing for best supporting. And a best actress for Catalina Saavedra. 4 cats."