Theme and topic can be familiar yet the filmmaking splendid and new, as it is in the case of Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Silva’s “The Maid” (La nana). Shot in the Santiago home where he grew up, Silva’s black comic telling of a 41-year-old maid, Raquel (Catalina Saavedra) whose twenty-three years of service had led her to feel a part of the family is fiendishly intimate. There’s a tincture of Buñuel in this portrait of servitude and confused affinities. The home, and especially the kitchen, is Raquel’s castle but prison as well. Richly imagined in its jittery mood even if its visual palette is unassumingly low-fi, “The Maid” doesn’t stereotype the upstairs or downstairs of the economically engendered relationship, but earns an apt conclusion after Rachel befriends a new servant. Saavedra’s rich, often ambiguous performance is a treasure. A Sundance jury prizewinner. Saavedra won the IFP Gotham Awards’ Breakthrough Actor prize on Monday night. 94m. (Ray Pride)
“The Maid” opens Friday at the Music Box.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.