Raquel has been in the service of the Valdes family for 20-plus years and it shows. Her face is appropriately worn for a woman devoted solely to the arduous domestic duties for a bustling, upper-class six-person clan. Her physical health is deteriorating (she suffers from unexplained fainting spells) and her mental state doesn’t seem much more sound. She scarcely disguises her discontent anymore, but only the eldest daughter really seems to notice.
But the mistress of the house feels a long-standing loyalty (or is it guilt?) toward Raquel and can’t imagine getting rid of her. Rather, she suggests that another woman be brought in to help ease her workload—a solution that backfires, since it triggers even more aggressive behavior in Raquel. But the maid meets her match in the younger, free-spirited girl, played by a very likeable Mariana Loyola.
As Raquel, Catalina Saavedra gives a layered performance that’s truly striking—you wouldn’t know whether to run screaming or give her a hug. Director Sebastián Silva, who based this intimate character and class-divide study on his real-life experiences (and even shot most of it within the confines of his own family’s home!), creates an uneasy yet sometimes humorous tone that threatens at any moment to veer into Chabrol territory.
But The Maid is a film that defies expectations; expect to feel ashamed of yourself.