La Nana (The Maid) (2009)
Critic Consensus: Catalina Saavedra's devastating performance would be reason enough to see The Maid, but Sebastian Silva's empathetic direction and finely tuned script only add to the movie's pleasing heft.
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as Pilar Valdes
as Mundo Valdes
as Lucas Valdes
as Mamá de Lucy
as Papá de Lucy
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Critic Reviews for La Nana (The Maid)
As played by Catalina Saavedra, she's a guarded, ruthless, but ultimately poignant character, and writer-director Sebastian Silva studies the levers of power inside the little household as if it were the Politburo.
Deadpan, handheld technique allows director Sebastián Silva to mine mundane situations for subtle hazard but also to take his story in unexpected directions, initial reticence preserving the potential for surprise.
As unlikable -- and unstable -- as the character is, Saavedra finds a way for the audience to care about Raquel deeply and even to root for her to come out on top with her childish evil plots.
Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes unsettling, and always engrossing, The Maid is a domestic drama about the gulf that exists at impossibly close quarters between the worlds of upstairs and downstairs, the worlds of employer and household servant,
Fun for a while but increasingly tedious...
Audience Reviews for La Nana (The Maid)
I loved this satirical look at the class system in Latin-American culture (in this instance: Chile)! But, under the surface of an obvious social commentary lies a tender story of a woman who is adamantly entrenched in her role as a no-nonsense housekeeper when what she really needs is, quite simply, a helping hand in her own life.
"The Maid" is an incisive character study that is almost bookended by a pair of birthday celebrations, the first one for Raquel(Catalina Saavedra), the maid on occasion of her 41st birthday. While not really similar nor approaching its level of mayhem, I could not but also think of "Murderous Maids" and recalling Sylvie Testud saying that events would not have happened in that movie if her character had not been treated so nicely. And that's also true of the family in "The Maid" as Pilar(Claudia Celedon) and Mundo(Alejandro Goic) have worked to make Raquel an informal part of their family, as she has been employed there twenty years. It is also for this reason that they are looking for a little extra help for Raquel since they feel the house is too large anymore for her take care of by herself, especially in light of her headaches and taking a header down a flight of stairs. Raquel is adamant in refusing help, having already driven one other maid from the house but Pilar overrules her with the hiring of Mercedes(Mercedes Villanueva) from Peru. Raquel is even in a running battle with Camila(Andrea Garcia-Huidobro), the eldest daughter. Raquel's behavior emanates from the job becoming her entire life and she is the type of person who can never retire because she would not know what to do with herself otherwise(Compared to the people who cannot retire because they cannot afford to.) whereas Pilar might have a job and Mundo spends all of his time on model boats and golfing. As a family of luxury, they have a house fitting their status and nearly all of the action is filmed there. Don't get me wrong. It is beautiful but it does become claustrophobic with a hint of sexual frustration in the air and it is a relief when the action is occasionally set elsewhere.
"The Maid" is a modest, low-budget Chilean film from a relatively unknown writer/director, Sebastian Silva. It is a character study of a lonely, childless, middle-aged maid named Raquel, who is played in an impressively understated and naturalistic way by Catalina Saavedra. There is a fine line, however, between understated and boring, and "The Maid" unfortunately slides across the line into boring one too many times. But there is some special cinematic work here, and I'm pleased that the film has gotten attention beyond the confines of Chile. It is also nice to see a maid character at the center of a serious film -- it's about time. Maid characters are typically used as comic relief or are just part of the background. Silva really upends this tradition by making Raquel the center of the story and focusing all his attention on her inner life. Raquel is a live-in maid who has been working for the same suburban family for close to 20 years. The family of six is vibrant and happy, but Raquel seems to be unhappy about something. She has a strange hostility toward the oldest child, which is difficult to watch. It doesn't appear that the girl has done anything to deserve this mistreatment. When the family hires a second maid to help Raquel, she goes almost insane, locking the new maid out of the house, maniacally disinfecting the bathroom every time the new maid uses it, and abusing the family's new kitten. The new maid, a delightful young Peruvian woman, quits within a month. But the lady of the house will not give up. She insists on getting a second maid. So we watch Raquel terrorize yet another servant, but then the third is the charm. The third new maid (played beautifully by Mariana Loyola) breaks through to Raquel. A touching friendship emerges, and we come to learn a lot more about Raquel and about the peculiar emotional challenges of being a live-in maid. Is she part of the family or is she not? Being both in and out is very tough. I had never even considered this. Silva's film is not a masterpiece, but it open one's eyes in a special way and will surely touch everyone who sees it.
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