The Second Mother will be shown on March 6, 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm, at the Winchester Public Library, Large Meeting Room, 80 Washington Street, Winchester.
An excitingly fresh take on some classic themes and ideas, The Second Mother centers around Val, a hard-working live-in housekeeper in modern day São Paulo. Val is perfectly content to take care of every one of her wealthy employers’ needs, from cooking and cleaning to being a surrogate mother to their teenage son, who she has raised since he was a toddler. But when Val’s estranged daughter Jessica suddenly shows up the unspoken but intrinsic class barriers that exist within the home are thrown into disarray. Jessica is smart, confident, and ambitious, and refuses to accept the upstairs/downstairs dynamic, testing relationships and loyalties and forcing everyone to reconsider what family really means.
The delicate relationship between employer and servant is skillfully subverted and scrutinized in this funny, serious study of class in modern-day Brazil. The perennially fascinating and tactless subject of 21st-century servitude is the theme of this well acted and absorbing film – to be compared with Sebastián Silva’s 2009 gem The Maid, and, from much further back, Joseph Losey’s 1960 classic The Servant.
What happens when the live-in help get above themselves? And how does the supposedly liberal and relaxed employer class find a way of expressing its fastidious distaste and unease? It is the story of a rich Brazilian family in São Paulo and their housekeeper Val, wonderfully played by Regina Casé. She has been a nanny to the son of the house, as well as all her other duties, earning enough to send money home to pay for the care of her own daughter Jéssica, whom she has not seen for 10 years.
Everyone knows their place and everyone is happy. Now Jéssica shows up: a smart, confident 19-year-old hoping to apply for a university place in the city, and Val asks if she can stay with her in her little room while she looks for a place. Soon Jéssica makes herself at home all over the house in all sorts of subtly inappropriate ways, addressing her mother’s employers in a subtly insolent manner – and it is clear that the master of the house and the son find her attractive. The unspoken, unspeakable agony of class and caste is cleverly rendered in this funny, serious movie. —Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
The Second Mother is the March 2017 choice of the One Winchester, Many Traditions International Film Series.
One Winchester, Many Traditions is a project of the Winchester Public Library in collaboration with the Winchester Multicultural Network, funded by the John and Mary Murphy Educational Foundation.
The Second Mother continues the Network’s year-long exploration of class attitudes and behaviors through another medium, film. Through the subtle insolence of a housekeeper’s visiting daughter toward her mother’s employer, we engage with the “unspoken, unquestionable agony of class and caste.”