Friday, October 16, 2009


Sebastian Silva's masterful "La nana" ("The Maid") opens today at the Angelika in NY. I saw this film back in April in Argentina and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. There are two main reasons why this film is so hard to forget. The first one is Catalina Saavedra's fierce and fearless performance. An accomplished actress in Chile, she first rejected the role because she was tired of being typecast after having played so many maids in her career. She eventually came around and, perhaps to get even, created THE most complex and heartbreaking portrait of a maid in the history of cinema. I'm not exaggerating when I say that her bravura performance is akin to Robert DeNiro's Jake LaMotta, full of outward anger but concealing a deep self-hatred.

The second reason this film is memorable to me is because of the sense of discovery I felt while watching it. I knew I was watching a true artist, someone with complete control of the medium. The storytelling mastery Sebastian Silva displays in this, only his second film, is astonishing. He was able to construct a compelling narrative that is (1) a study of class structure and social injustice in Chile, (2) an intriguing character study of someone who is deeply unhappy and potentially driven to violence, and (3) a story of friendship and renewal. Despite all these elements, the film is never far from plausible, admirably maintaining a naturalistic style throughout. I see great things happening to Sebastian Silva, both in the short and long run.

I wish I could write a complete review but work is keeping me busy. I just wanted to let you know that "The Maid" is not to be missed.