The Maid

2010-07-09 13:41
The Maid

What it's about:

After 23 years working as housemaid in an upper class Santiago, Chile, household, Raquel (Catalina Saavedra) is as much a part of the Valdez family as the wife, husband, and kids she lives with and looks after. On the occasion of Raquel’s 41st birthday, Pilar Valdez (Claudia Celedon), her husband Mundo (Alejandro Goic) and their oldest son Lucas (Agustin Silva) force the sullen, withdrawn maid to emerge from her kitchen sanctum and join the family for a brief celebration at the close of dinner. But Raquel’s discomfort is as strong as her "family’s" need to acknowledge their awkward dependence on her and she soon withdraws to her room.

Plagued by migraines and dizziness, Raquel nevertheless devotes herself to her domestic responsibilities and to a complex series of relationships with the individual family members she serves. For insecure Pilar, the maid has become the de facto head of the household. For teenage Lucas, Raquel has transformed from surrogate mother to crush-object. For daughter Camila (Andrea Garcia-Huidobro), Raquel is a bitterly resented opponent in an ongoing and undeclared psyche war fought via noisy early morning vacuuming, ignored instructions, and constant complaints and accusations.

Years of hard and unrelenting work have begun to take their toll on Raquel, and Mundo decides she could use some help; he hires a young au pair, Mercedes (Mercedes Villanueva), to assist her, but Raquel refuses to allow anyone to usurp her role in any way, and treats the girl so horribly she soon quits. Unaware of the conflict between Raquel and Mercedes, Mundo hires an older and more experienced women to work with Raquel, Sonia (Anita Reeves), and it's not long before the two domestics are locked in a fierce battle of wills…

What the critics thought:

"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."
- Jonathan F. Richards,

"The Maid is a small film but very sure, and extremely well-acted."
- Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

"The Maid has that particular gift of leaving you off balance in the best possible way, and whenever something like that comes around you owe it to yourself to check it out."
- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

A Chilean drama about a maid trying to hold on to her position after having served a family for 23 years.

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