Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The Maid (La Nana)
Chilean director Sebastián Silva's second feature "The Maid" (La Nana | Chile/Mexico 2009 | 95 min.) is an absorbing character study about a fascinating maid. The film wins the Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema Dramatic) at 2009 Sundance Film Festival and continues to collecting trophies around the globe.
The film opens with the awkward celebration of Raquel's (Catalina Saavedra) 41st birthday. She appears to be shy, unhappy, grumpy, mysterious, and haggard. After 20 years as a live-in maid in a wealthy family and taking care of four children and the two adults in the family, she disappears in this family's life as if she is part of the family. Or is she?
Despite her falling health, she refuses to allow any new maid to step into her territory or to share the domain that she fiercely guards. She becomes the most difficult maid to work with. As a result, none of the new maid can work with her long, except an upbeat and free spirited Lucy (Mariana Loyola) who inspires her to find her life again.
Catalina Saavedra gives an outstanding performance as the intriguing protagonist. Her expressive eyes reveal her mind every time when she looks into the camera. She intelligently creates a rich and complex character—Raquel. Like Raquel's employer, the audience might be perplexed about where to place her in the heart. Appreciate her work? Love her dedication? Pity her life? Condemn her behavior? Admire her strong will?
There is simply no easy answer.
Raquel is perhaps the best maid in the world when it comes to keep a house tidy. However, actually having her in the house as a maid may not be as blessed as it sounds. One thing is certain though—she will be the maid that no one can easily forget.