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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cama Adentro (Live-In Maid)


No surprise that as much as I read about plot summaries, reviews and viewers comments the more I disagree with all of them. So I stopped reading, as it is obvious that this fantastic movie has many layers as a story and as a movie, and people will see whatever they can or are willing to see, so plot versions abound in the net.

Let me give you my version for this great Jorge Gaggero first film that honestly is a very visually simple chamber drama, but with the great performances by Norma Aleandro and Norma Argentina that with mainly expressions in an extremely good screenplay (written by Jorge Gaggero) plus extraordinary directing artistry brings to life a tale of personal economical down spiral –that reflects Argentina economical crisis- told by one of the most complex relations any female human being can establish; I’m talking about the relationship between a long-term live-in maid and the “patrona” (the female household boss).

I suppose that you have to live in a country or a region of many countries to really understand how deep and complex family relationships with long-term live-in maids can be; but many of us easily can understand that a non-family member that has lived in your home for the past 30 years definitively becomes part of your family. So with this in mind try to imagine the following.

A wealthy older woman, Beba (Norma Aleandro) is taken inside the economical down spiral that hit Argentina in the late 90’s. She’s is/was a strong, proud and divorced independent woman that run her own business, lost her only daughter when she left to live in Spain and was left with a few card playing gossip sharing friends, a no good for something brother and her only real companion is Dora (Norma Argentina) the housemaid that came to live with the family when she was 17-years-old and that was 30 years ago.

Beba owes Dora 7 months salary and is doing whatever possible for her not to quit, but eventually Dora has to quit as she has her own home, a lousy-lazy, no-good for something, cheating man in her life and needs money to go on living her own life, continue building her house and well, maintain her kept man. But the bond between these two different social classes women is one that has been slowly built for 30 years and is one of the most stronger –yet stranger- bonds that could happen with two women; so obviously, the split is going to be very hard and it is.

One last thing, when live-in maids come to upper class households at such young age they learn a lot of upper class habits that most of the time they have to deal as best as they can with their own reality when they go back –usually during weekends- to their families.

Wow, this is becoming too long so let’s get to the point. The film effectively plays with the two women complex relationship, with each women reality and with the inevitable split that none of them want to happen. Most interesting is the end of the movie that gives such a magical -yet realistic- end to this amazing two extreme opposite social classes women story, while truly reflecting the consequences to ordinary people in the Argentinean crisis. But as much as I try to resume what this movie is about, it’s impossible, as you really have to see it to grasp all the subtleties told with situations, actions, expressions and words.

But be suffice when I tell that this is one of the best films I have seen lately about two women relationship, as not only has excellent performances by always great Norma Aleandro and by surprisingly good non-actor Norma Argentina in her first ever role, but also has excellent visual and narrative storytelling by first time helmer Jorge Gaggero.

This 2004 film has been honored with nominations and wins at fests and awards all over the world, including being nominated for The Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance fest were won the Special Jury Prize; but extremely well deserved is the Best New Actress Silver Condor award that Norma Argentina won at the 2006 Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards, as well as Jorge Gaggero winning the Silver Condor for Best First Film.

If you want to get a glimpse about the consequences of an economical crisis in ordinary people –especially now that we are in a world wide depression- this is a movie that maybe could help you to envision them; but most of all this is a fantastic story in an excellent movie that I strongly recommend to women all over the world as a must be seen film with a not often seen in the big screen two women complex –in almost every sense of the word- relationship. By the way, this is no art cinema as many say; for me this is simply great cinema.

Big Enjoy!!!

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