New Internationalist

The Maid (La Nana)

September 2010

Written and directed by Sebastian Silva

In the South American fashion among the well-to-do, Raquel is a maid-cum-nanny with a family in Santiago. With them since she was a teenager, and now 40, with no sexual life and no independent social life, she sees herself as an intimate part of the family, but she is in fact a servant. Her charges are now teenagers, increasingly aware of their growing power and their social position – and Raquel’s ambiguous position.

Raquel is trying to hang on to what she’s given her life to, but is intense, moody, and has started to have fainting fits, which may be panic attacks. She’s slowly going nuts. The family, sympathetically, engage a second maid to help her out. To Raquel, though, another maid only rubs in her own servant status, and, even worse, makes her feel redundant, and very threatened. She wages war on the interloper. And then on another, and another.

Catalina Saavedra, a popular comic actor in Chile, plays Raquel dead straight, and the result is surprising, both sympathetic and horrific, and funny. Finally, when a new arrival responds to her hostility with compassion and generosity, Raquel’s life starts to change. A movie that makes its serious points lightly and leaves you pondering.

This column was published in the September 2010 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 435

New Internationalist Magazine issue 435
Issue 435

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New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

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