Already being lauded as one of the best foreign language films 2015 has been privy to, The Second Mother film from director Anna Muylaert is a masterpiece of realist Brazilian cinema. Originally titled Que Horas Ela Volta? ('What time is she coming home?' this new foreign film, in UK cinemas from September, tells the story of Val, a housemaid in São Paulo, who leaves her young daughter Jéssica at home in Pernambuco to care for the son of a wealthy family.
The Second Mother film review
Subtly drawn and beautifully shot, The Second Mother explores contemporary servitude with uncompromising realist eyes. As Val sweeps and cooks, she overhears conversations between family members and business transactions, but is always on the peripheries, out of earshot, kept on one side of the invisible but very real barrier between the upper and lower echelons living together in the house.
One of the best Brazilian films of the year
When Val's estranged daughter Jéssica suddenly arrives in São Paulo, to stay in the household where Val has spent the last fifteen years, these invisible barriers are sharply brought into very real focus. Jéssica's refusal to acknowledge their inherent difference leads her to overstay her welcome, as the mother increasingly resents having to bring uncomfortable attention to Jéssica's and Val's place in the house, and, by proxy, in society.
Invisible class barriers brought into sharp focus
Deeply saddening and uncomfortable, The Second Mother offers a too-close-for-comfort insight into latent societal inequalities, perpetuated by the upper classes, and human instincts toward superiority. Incredible tension waxes and wanes throughout and the film paints a frighteningly accurate picture of modern slavery, drawing poignant attention to class systems that are still very much in place – pointing out that it is the act of acknowledging them that is taboo, but not the systems themselves.
The audience repeatedly feels complicit in the cruelty, brought to particularly stark attention in, for example, a scene where Val is handing canapés round at a party – few look up or even acknowledge her presence with more than a casual wave of a hand. Ultimately The Second Mother asks the question of whether it’s worse to live in a world where freedom doesn’t exist, or a world where it’s just an illusion. In short: moving, pointed yet subtly drawn, this is a sensitive film that will warrant discussion of how far society has really come in eliminating class difference.
The Second Mother trailer
Click here to watch The Second Mother trailer, Sundance Festival
|What||The Second Mother film: 2015 Sundance Grand Jury Prize Nominee|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
04 Sep 15 – 04 Oct 15, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Price||£ determined by venue|
|Website||Click here to go to The Second Mother IMDb page|