After 23 years working as a devoted maid in an upper class Chilean household, embittered and ailing Raquel (Sundance Film Festival and Gotham Award winner Catalina Saavedra) can no longer care for the family alone. Trapped by guilt, matriarch Pilar (Claudia Celed¢n) refuses to let Raquel go, even though it is clear their longtime maid is slowly unraveling. Instead, Pilar hires more help, throwing Raquel into a jealous frenzy. The seemingly happy home soon becomes the stage for Raquel's dirty tricks as she attempts to drive away anyone who threatens to take her place with darkly comedic, and in the end, endearing results.
Sebastián Silva's closely observed character study centers on Raquel (Catalina Saavedra, tight-lipped and wild-eyed), who has served the same Santiago-based family for 23 years. When she turns 41, they throw her a party, but Raquel would prefer to work. Estranged from her relatives and plagued by crippling headaches, she relishes the feeling of control, though her teddy bear collection betrays a stunted adolescence. Further, she can no longer stand assertive 19-year-old Camila (Andrea García-Huidobro), who resents her surly attitude. Raquel favors the flirtatious Lucas (Agustín Silva, the director's younger brother), an amateur magician. She reports to their mother, Pilar (Claudia Celedón), whose husband, Mundo (Alejandro Goic), builds model ships in his spare time. To reduce her burden, Pilar hires a pair of supplemental workers, but the increasingly insecure maid drives them away. Though the Valdes clan values her efforts, Silva suggests that she's either burnt out, sexually frustrated, suffering from exposure to toxic chemicals, or struggling with an undiagnosed condition--possibly a combination of problems. As she starts to push even Lucas and Pilar away, the filmmaker dares viewers to identify with this fiercely territorial creature until Mariana Loyola's warm-hearted Lucy steps in, forcing the maid to move on or to relinquish some of her control. Throughout, Saavedra gives an admirably vanity-free performance, unafraid to show Raquel at her most unlikable, unattractive, and unintentionally amusing--which just makes her rare smiles all the more precious. Extra features include a photo gallery, a featurette, and page-to-screen storyboards. --Kathleen C. Fennessy