A married couple are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease.
In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
The story of how a maid called Raquel, who has worked for over 20 years in one affluent Chilean household, rediscovers herself. La Nana is a microcosm of Latin social hierarchy while also focusing on one woman's journey to free herself from a mental servitude of her own making Written by
Elephant Eye Films
Tightly made and very honestly depicted view of a struggling live-in maid
The Maid (2009)
In some ways this film is extraordinary. It's small, limited in its setting, and it has a slightly predictable inevitability. But it is so seeringly well acted and filmed with an honest small budget honesty, it's hard not to appreciate. It also deals with a huge issue in many countries--the use of household help, often now from other, poorer countries, and the ironies and sadness that goes with this class structure.
Catalina Saavedra is "the maid" in this, and like the leading role in the even more astonishing "The Hedgehog" we get inside this person's modest and seemingly invisible persona to really get them, or part of them, for a brief spell. It's moving--it made me cry--and revealing. It's not like we don't know that live-in maids lead an unfair, often unhappy life (which they disguise from their employers). But we aren't often faced with it so plainly.
This also is revealing about the standard of living in Chile, which is one of the two or three South American countries fully above the "third world" status you might think at first. The fact it did so well in the United States (earning half a million dollars) is not because it was a glimpse of a foreign impoverished country, but because it resembled so well the situation in American households. Those with maids.
See this? Yes, certainly. It has a simple cinema-verite style, not quite home movies but shot almost entirely inside the house in a shaky camera. The plot might not be enough for some viewers--after awhile it is what it is without a lot of complications. Or at least not complications we haven't seen before. What carries it is the sincerity of the performances, especially Saavedra's.
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