Monday, July 19, 2010


She cooks, she cleans, she plots

By Edward Copeland
When we first meet Raquel (Catalina Saavedra) in Sebastián Silva’s film Chilean film The Maid, Raquel casts a solitary figure, eating alone in the kitchen of the family she has long worked for while in an adjoining room, the family is completing preparations for a surprise birthday gathering for their servant. One of the sons keep urging Raquel to hurry and come to the other room, but Raquel seems more interested in her meal than any festivities. Eventually, she relents and as the family showers her with song and gifts, Raquel seems anything but particularly full of joy. In fact, joy doesn’t seem to be part of Raquel’s limited universe.

At first, it’s unclear where the conflict is going to lie in The Maid as Raquel runs into friction with the family’s oldest daughter Camila (Andrea García-Huidobro), who thinks The Maid is impinging on her privacy and is a bit unstable. Soon though, it becomes clear that Raquel is indeed the problem as the lady of the household, Pilar (Claudia Celedón), hires new maids to lighten Raquel’s load but Raquel views the new servants as interlopers and threats to her job and existence.

Raquel’s rebellion seems to be a case of pique at first, almost mischievous, but as things escalate, one begins to wonder if there may be someone dangerous beneath that maid’s uniform. Then, as the saying goes, the third time’s the charm and after a spell that lands Raquel in the hospital, Pilar brings in a new maid named Lucy (Mariana Loyola) and she recognizes in Raquel what the woman needs and has just the solution.

When Raquel resorts to her usual trick of locking the new maid outside and then hiding (though you’d think the family would be wise to this by now and give new maids their own set of keys), instead of growing angry or scaling the house like the others, Lucy vanishes. A curious Raquel goes out to see what happened and gets a delicious surprise that makes her laugh and smile for the first time in the movie. It’s a wonderful moment in the film and for Saavedra.

What’s so wonderful about The Maid is that at nearly every step, it defies your expectations thanks to its clever script by Silva and Pedro Peirano. When you expect the story to take a left turn, it often swerves to the right. Sometimes the results are sad and touching, other times they are hilarious. When the ending arrives, it sets you on edge for fear that the progress which has been made may be lost, but the film tosses you yet another thoughtful curve.

When The Maid is over, you see how one person can truly transform another who was simply seeking kindness and real human contact. Saavedra’s performance guides the film and Silva has created a nice little tone poem of a movie.

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My wife and I plan on watching this soon. Thank God movies like this are available on Netflix Instant View. I remember hearing about this on "At the Movies" and thought it looked really bizarre. Your review has given me that extra nudge to hurry up and watch this.

Great thoughts as always!
I hate cleaning out the fridge too! I will have to try doing one deep cleaning of something when I vacuum or dust. Great tips! I haven't cleaned the blinds in
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Thanks for share that....
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