Comedy drama adapted from a smash hit play of the same name on the Brazilian stage.
Release Date: 3 October 2002 (Germany)
Director: Nando Olival, Fernando Meirelles
Writer: Cecília Homem de Mello,Fernando Meirelles, Nando Olival
Cast: Cláudia Missura, Graziela Moretto, Lena Roque
Maids is a comedy drama from Brazil, directed by Fernando Meirelles and Nando Olival and adapted from a smash hit play of the same name on the Brazilian stage. And it’s very well adapted as well, translating apparently effortlessly to the big screen and betraying nothing of it’s lineage.
Presented episodically, the film takes us into the lives of 5 maids, part of the massive, unrewarded workforce that keeps Brazil going, characters who all know each other and know personal details about each other’s lives in some cases. While they all have different dreams and aspirations, they all share basically the same overworked and underpaid existences, to clean up after other people. The women interact with each other’s stories, and are presented with wit and humour, showing them to be rich and diverse human beings who happen to be trapped in a downward spiral as they can never earn enough to progress from their menial lives. Though the film takes a while to get into it’s stride with a slow first half, it’s worth sticking with.
Cida, Roxanne, Quitéria, Raimunda and Creo are all played and underplayed in some cases, brilliantly, bringing genuine emotion to the maids plight as they desperately try to balance work and family life, with work consuming so much of their time that their home lives are placed under stress. Well, aside from Raimunda who is still looking for a husband. Creo is seeking her daughter, long lost, Cida is cheating on her husband, Roxanne dreams of becoming a model. They’re all well drawn and well written characters and the actresses do the script credit.
If there is a problem with the movie it is that although the characters all loudly hate their employers (and the wealthy in general), we never get to see these people so feel disassociated from that aspect of the maids lives. A few confrontations or maybe the odd sneering comment might have helped to define the characters a little more sharply but it’s a minor point when they are already completely human.
It’s an impressionistic and witty film with real heart and a message that is worth listening to but which is never rammed down the throat, emerging naturally out of the lives of the characters. Recommended if you after a human interest comedy that also makes you think.