Friday, January 8, 2010
What is your life like when you work a job you hate for 20 years? Well, if you’re Raquel, the live-in maid for a family of 6, you start going a little bit nuts. La Nana is a 2009 Chilean flick about Raquel reaching her breaking point. The movie starts on her birthday and, coincidentally, the 20th anniversary of her coming to work for the family. Raquel seems to have reached a place in her life where she is full of little more than angst, dissatisfaction and obsession. Her obsession and depression is literally affecting her whole person and she is now starting to have headaches so bad she will occasionally pass out. There is a certain dichotomy to being a live-in maid. You get to live in a nice house, but don’t get to enjoy it. You’re part of the family, but not really. In other words, you’re very invested in a job that’s not very invested in you. 20 years in and Raquel is about to snap. The family brings in a few other maids to give Raquel some ‘help,’ but they inspire little more than jealousy and a heavy dose of more depression. That is until she meets a new maid named Lucy.
Lucy is informal, fun, happy, healthy, and all the things Raquel is not. At first this inflicts on her the same disheartening feelings the other new maids brought, but Lucy is different because Lucy wants to bond with Raquel and isn’t going to give up very easily in her quest to do so. So, will the tipping point be towards the light or further into the darkness? I loved the way this movie was shot. Nearly every shot is a close-up and it truly makes the movie feel claustrophobic, which is perfect because it’s about a person who lives their life like they’re in solitary confinement. I also loved the actors. Everyone, even the kids, is great in this movie. Catalina Saavedra seems to inhabit Raquel and Mariana Loyola is absolutely natural as Lucy. My only complaint is more macro than this. There was quite a bit of the movie that should have been cut. This would’ve made for a fantastic 45-60 minute piece. In the end, this meant the movie was not nearly as engaging as it could have been. It felt like a really good early effort in a director’s career, showing tons of promise but needed just as much refinement.