Thoughts On: The Maid - Dynamics


The Maid - Dynamics

Quick Thoughts: The Maid (La Nana, 2009)

Made by Sebastián Silva, this is the Chilean film of the series

The Maid is a simple, yet very poignant film that, with touches of drama and comedy, explores the social dynamics surrounding a maid who has served a family for over 20 years, but is now not only getting old, but also is falling ill. As her family (the family that she serves and is incredibly attached to) start to bring in new maids to help her, there are many conflicts, much deceit and a lot of passive-aggression introduced into the household that threaten to come to a destructive climax for all. The maid, Raquel, is then forced over the course of this narrative to come to terms with her place in the household; whilst she is not just a servant, she also isn't a true family member. Trying to figure out what this means and where exactly her place in the household is, is then seemingly a parable that resonates with a lot beyond what this narrative, on a surface level, depicts. In such, not knowing where you stand and how to then engage the social mechanics around you is a pretty daunting position found in many contexts, but is best represented through a servant or maid as this position often leaves them highly dependent on those who the maid know are above them, but also somewhat wary of those that they assume are below them in the hierarchy of the house. Unsettling all of this, however, is the fact that, without the maid, the house doesn't function very well. So, whilst Raquel, an archetypal servant, is one of the most integral parts of this household, she is also one of the lowest functioning bodies in the hierarchy of the home. From this comes a tension that tautens into a tight-rope that, as skillfully as it may be walked by a maid, still puts them under a lot of pressure that is both complex and multi-faceted in nature.

This is a concept and kind of story that has been told for decades upon decades, if not centuries, with a plethora of films (everything from My Man Godfrey to Cries & Whispers to The Handmaiden) and books (everything from Jane Eyre to Below The Stairs to The Help) covering such a topic. The Maid fits into this topical genre of film quite subtly, allowing us to observe the crux of these stories - which is the complex social dynamics - with silence, without too much drama, romance or a distraction from the mundanity that underlies these stories (which is what makes them so personal and so affecting). Without wanting to spoil too much of this film, I then have to recommend you give this a go if you haven't already seen it. If you have, however, what are your thoughts?

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