Raquel (Saavedra) has a bad attitude. A woman in her early forties, she’s been the live-in housekeeper for a kind, moderately wealthy family for half her life, and the joyless repetition of the job has begun to take its toll. Increasingly dependent on painkillers, Raquel resorts to household pranks and childish avoidance to antagonize the family’s college-age daughter and a procession of new servants, all in the hopes of protecting her precarious power within the home. Her antics successfully push everyone away, until new maid Lucy (Loyola) actually pushes back.
This Chilean drama won prizes for best foreign feature and actress at Sundance, and deservedly so. Writer-director Sebastin Silva takes the handheld-video, made-for-a-song aesthetic of contemporary American DIY indie film and applies it to a story about Latin America’s class gap, as experienced from the near-bottom looking up. It’s not as dour as it sounds; Silva expertly frames his subjects and draws out each scene’s queasy humor. Saavedra, in an incredibly vanity-free performance, never shies away from Raquel’s darkest edges and still forces us to empathize with the frustrations and stunted loneliness of a life lived in servants’ quarters.—Karina Longworth
Opens Fri; Angelika. Find showtimes