Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Live-In Maid

This weekend I watched a lovely little movie from Argentina, called Live-In Maid. It takes place during the 1990s financial crisis, as Beba, an upper-middle-class woman struggles to find the money to pay her maid Dora, who has lived with her for 28 years.
Obviously money is an important part of the relationship between the two women, as one is an employee of the other. But it's more complicated than that-- in some ways, they are like family.

I found the circumstances of the movie quite resonant given the current economic situation in the US. In the movie, money is tight and lots of people are trying to find work. Beba tries to sell upscale cosmetics, but has very little success. She's left having to pawn her belongings to try to pay Dora the several months' worth of wages she owes her. Beba is embarrassed and ashamed, and can't seem to get her head around the idea of cutting her expenses, by moving to a smaller apartment or not having her hair done.

Meanwhile, Dora owns a little house outside the city, which she is slowly improving with the money she earns as a maid. Even if Beba can't pay her, we know there are still other wealthy people who will hire her. Dora is calm and in control, while Beba is getting desperate because of the disparity between her income and the lifestyle she thinks she has to have.

This is not a simplistic story of a haughty rich lady and her long-suffering maid-- it's far more nuanced, and somehow it really rings true. I was also surprised to learn that the woman who played the maid was actually a first-time actress who had actually worked as a housekeeper in the past-- her performance certainly measured up to that of the woman who plays Beba, who is one of Argentina's most famous actresses. All in all, I definitely recommend the film!

You can read the New York Times review of the film here, and it's available on Netflix.


HAwsumb said...

Not only is it available on DVD from Netflix, it's also available with Watch Instantly. Sounds interesting, I added it to my watch instantly queue immediately

Anonymous said...

Madame X - Hope all is well with you. I really enjoyed reading your posts on things like the guy where you buy bananas from increasing the price of bananas. I would love to see more posts like that!

Anonymous said...

I really loved your review of this movie. Unlike Beba I have definitely cut back my lifestyle expenses as much as I can but I still have a few hrs of Netflix subscription each month so I will definitely be watching this.