Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Maid

The Maid (La Nana) is a Chilean portrayal of the relationship between a long time live-in maid and the family she works for. Raquel is 41 and has been working for the Valdes family for 23 years. Her job has become her life and she simultaneously resents how the job has consumed the best part of her life without much reward (financial or otherwise) while also resenting any challenge to "her place" with the family. Raquel's isolation in the large empty house during the day and the boredom of her day off underline how her job has imprisoned her.
When Mrs Valdes chides Raquel for forgetting an instruction she complains about overwork, when Mrs Valdes responds by floating the idea of hiring a girl to help Raquel, she retorts that she doesn't need any help. This conundrum is Mrs Valdes's problem to solve (within the self imposed constraint of not upsetting Raquel), while Raquel tries to make sense of her life and her dissatisfaction with it.

Raquel's childish passive-aggressive approach to any problem is the main source of humour that lightens what could otherwise be a depressing story. Finally it takes imperturbable and friendly new maid Lucy to break through Raquel's defences and show her that there is another way to relate to people and that life is possible outside work.

The Maid takes us on an emotional journey to an impasse and then through it (with plenty of humour on the way) to and ending that isn't as sugar coated as other film makers would be tempted to make it. It is also an interesting look at the relationship between servants and their employers, something Kiwi's are less familiar with than Chileans.

(If you want a spoiler then this link will give a fuller account of the plot)

Ian's rating 3/5

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