Film: The Maid

The Maid (La Nana) was a surprise hit on the festival circuit last year. The Chilean film was a winner at Sundance and also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. “She’s more or less family” taglines the story in which the live in maid Raquel has been working for a family for twenty years. Sebastian Silva, the director, successfully sends the overall subject of family across to the audience.

The opening introduces Raquel, entering the kitchen and eating separately from the family she works with. However, they are in the dining room lighting candles and hiding presents whilst calling her name as it is her birthday. She enters the room, after persuasion by Lucas, who is also referred as her favourite. They shower Raquel with happiness, gifts, and the mention that they are happy she has been with the family for twenty years now. However, with Raquel aging, and the family’s house most probably larger than what is was twenty years ago, Raquel is struggling to keep up with the demands and chores, as well as the uncomfortable relationship between her and the eldest daughter Camila.

It is decided that another maid will help Raquel throughout the week with the chores - much to her dismay. This is expressed by Raquel with her constant bad attitude and game playing, such as locking the maids out of the house whilst putting on the hoover, pretending not to hear them shouting outside. This, however, is counteracted by Lucy who does not let Raquel’s crazy behaviour bother her, and allows a friendship to blossom in which Raquel starts to feel human again.

Her performance throughout the film does have a real, raw feeling to it. We can see and feel every ounce of emotion that runs through Raquel’s (Catalina Saavedra) body and face, which allows us to connect with her. We may not understand her at all times, because of her unique character, but her facial expressions and body movements work well together to visually express what she may feel.

The film’s not faultless. The relationship between Raquel and Camila is never explained, which leaves a couple of unanswered questions. The soundtrack’s surprisingly missing throughout the film, although this could be that Silva wanted to base all possible emotion on the performance itself with no other influence.

The Maid shows the purest form of emotion and desperation when it comes to wanting to belong to family. This is a story that can fit within any culture or surrounding, which allows it to be relatable. It expresses that sooner or later you realise how important family is, but you don’t always have to be blood related. Family comes in many different forms, which are basically built on relationships by people who love you no matter who you are.

Fan: Erin Edwards


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