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Movie Review: The Maid (La Nana)

Alternate Title: Woman on the Verge

Story: Make a mental note to remember 30 year old Chilean director Sebastián Silva's name. He is going to be big in the movie world. This exceptional character study and social commentary about a maid was written by Mr. Silva and Pedro Peirano.

Raquel is 41 and has been the maid in a busy Chilean household since she was 18. She works six days a week, takes care of the four children, cooks, cleans and has no life of her own. She has invested her existence in this family but as we see - she is not really a part of the family. She remains the maid. Raquel is exhausted and plagued with headaches, dizziness and insecurities. The lady of the house, in an effort to help Raquel, hires her some help. This territorial invasion causes some comedic cinematic segments but is, at the same time, heartbreaking.

How Raquel awakens from her marginalized existence is wonderful cinema. The astonishing performance by Chilean TV star, Catalina Saavedra, is worth the price of admission.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVCoY-p9xLc

Acting: Catalina Saavedra as Raquel, is marvelous. Her face is expressive, poignant and award winning. Brava to her. Claudia Celedón as the lady of the house, was perfect. Alejandro Goic as the father of the house was fine in a small role. Mariana Loyola as Lucy, one of the other maids was terrific. Augustin Silva, the director's brother, plays teenage Lucas and was wonderfully played.

Trivia: Pedro Peirano filmed this semi-autobiographical tale in his childhood home and dedicated the movie to two of his 'maids.' Catalina Saavedra won Best Actress award at the Cartegena Film Festival and Special Jury Prize at Sundance. The Chilean Government, for some wacky reason, did not enter this film into the Best Foreign Film Oscar race. Big mistake.

Predilection: None

Critters: Ah, the kitten. A sweet, though loud, kitten is brought into the house and Raquel does not greet this interloper with open arms. I was worried about the kitten, but other than being thrown out, nothing bad happens to the kitten (I imagine).

Food: Food is a big part of this film. It opens with a birthday cake for Raquel and we then get to enjoy several meals with the family throughout the film.

Sex Spectrum: Some shower scenes with quick shots of boobs, a teenager caught in an embarrassing masturbation incident over too much laundry and some fumbling in the bedroom.

Opening Titles: We watch Raquel, alone in the kitchen, eating some mystery meat and potatoes while the family enjoys their dinner in the other room.

Visual Art: The film is shot in what I guess is Raquel's claustrophobic imprisonment in the house.

Theater Audience: About 20 other people.

Weather: It is warm in Chile in December.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: I was worried about the kitten for awhile.

Drift Factor: I was riveted throughout.

Predictability Level: I was not sire where this film was going.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Award worthy, for sure.

Big Screen or Rental: If you can find it go for the big screen.

Length: 90 minutes