The Maid Sebastian Silva

The Maid Sebastian Silva
Raquel (Catalina Saavedra) has been the maid for the Valdes family for 23 years, living out of a small room off their kitchen and ostensibly raising their children from infancy, acting as a loyal extension of the family. That is, a paid and dispensable member of the family, which, psychologically speaking, creates a partial existential imbalance, forcing Raquel to identify and connect with a world that includes her only for functionality and service. This internal struggle manifests in dizzy spells, fainting and irrational emotional outbursts, leading to the hiring of a second maid, something perceived as a direct threat to the security of Raquel's constructed world. Writer/director Sebastian Silva doesn't play these inner-demons with a heavy hand, instead focusing on the titular maid's passive-aggressive, antisocial dealings with her new co-worker. She locks them out of the house, cleans everything they touch with bleach and outwardly lies to them in an effort to sabotage their relationship with the new help. Because of the absurdity and excess of her actions, the film plays out as a comedy, but it's difficult to laugh at such destructive and erratic behaviour, especially when it's rendered so deliberately with a neo-realist aesthetic. Her decisions are distressing and often frustrating, which is the major flaw of Silva's otherwise thoughtful social deconstruction. We understand that Raquel has spent most of her life with this family, but aren't given the opportunity within the narrative to understand the gravity of what this means in relation to her current state, as depicted in the film. It is therefore difficult to identify with her plight without stepping away from the story to analyze what exactly would lead to the present. Of course, Saavedra's frazzled, determined depiction of a woman at a crossroads and the fully fleshed world surrounding her keeps us in the moment, even if some of the intended lessons and identification fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, no supplements are included with the DVD. (Mongrel Media)