This warm-hearted, often uncomfortably funny Brazilian film plunges into the life of a well-off São Paulo family, all seen from the perspective of their long-serving live-in maid, Val (Regina Case) – a more tender parental figure to her employers’ teenage boy than his own mum and dad. But the same could be said of likeable, nervy, deferential Val’s relationship with her own teenage daughter, Jessica (Camila Mardila), who’s been living with her dad and absent from Val’s life for a decade: they hardly know each other. When confident, aspirational Jessica turns up at her mum’s workplace cum home and asks to stay a few nights while preparing for uni exams, sparks fly, and long-calcifying relationships begin to shift.
What could have been a sharp, upsetting study of social divisions, romantic delusion and parental ignorance turns out to be surprisingly soft and even sentimental by the end. But writer-director Anna Muylaert’s observations on family relations and invisible-but-firm class barriers are always acute, even if she ultimately mines them for hope rather than horror.