Friday, January 15, 2010

Do Not Underestimate "The Maid"

Oh, the problems of the rich.
“The Maid,” an import from Chile, explores what goes on in the mind of a maid who has been with a family so long she is like a member of the family- but not quite.
Raquel (Catalina Saavedra) is a stony, stoic all-purpose servant to the family of a genial, well-off doctor Mundo (Alejandro Goic), his chic, lovely wife Pilar (Claudia Celedon) and three rambunctious children.
While the family has dinner in a formal dining room, Raquel is off by herself in the kitchen, eating some unidentifiable brown goop.
She seems the picture of misery, but then she is called to the dining room and surprise! They have a birthday cake for her.
Raquel is 41 but she seems much older and she is wracked with aches and pains. Along with the cake and a present, Pilar announces she is hiring another maid to help out Raquel.
Raquel protests she does not need help, but when she passes out on the job Pilar hires another maid, a sweet young thing named Mercedes (Mercedes Villaneuva).
Mercedes is a clear threat to Raquel’s dominance, and she plays all manner of dirty tricks on the girl, not the least of which is locking her out of the house and playing deaf.
Raquel successfully drives Mercedes away in tears, but when she suffers another collapse and lands in the hospital, Pilar’s mother lends her Sonia, the maid from Hell.
An older woman who has seen it all, Sonia asked Raquel, “Why do you make such an effort for these ingrates?”
“I love them and they love me,” Raquel answers.
With such an attitude Sonia is not long for the household, but now even Raquel admits she needs help. Lucy (Mariana Loyola) a woman closer to Raquel’s age is hired, and the rapport between the two servants is immediate.
Written and directed by Sebastian Silva, “The Maid” is a kind of coming of age tale of a woman who has been emotionally repressed and stunted all her life. It’s is one of those engaging little movies that make you thankful for foreign and indie films.

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