You will fall in love
with The Second Mother, a charming
honest and hilarious Brazilian drama. Regina Casé – from the award winning film
Me You Them (2000), is a hoot as a gruff
lovable nanny working for a wealthy middle upper class family.
When her estranged teenaged daughter comes to stay with her at
the home of her employer where she works to search for an apartment in the city
of São Paulo while studying for the entrance exam to a prestigious school, a
tense social drama begins to unfold, exposing the social divide between generations with comic results.
The Second Mother
accurately reflects our current social media obsessed society with a keen
observant eye that allows us to see the absurd humor in our unconscious
behavior. The film is a scaled down modern version of Downton Abbey, showing us the vast psychological disparity between
the servant class and the household’s wealthy
While revealing conflicting class values, filmmaker Anna Muylaert gives us a sensitive truthful story of a
mother who must come to terms with her guilt and angry teenage daughter who she
hasn’t seen in ten years while working far away from her family.
Regina Casé’s performance as Val the nanny is so convincing and
charming that she dominates the screen with her large spontaneous personality
and exuberant energy. She clearly enjoys her work and loves the family she
works for, but she knows her place and has no illusions about her station in
life as a servant.
She knows her limits but that’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy
being around the things she can never have. To Val this is just the natural way
of life and she just feels lucky to be trusted enough to be a part of the lives
of such grand wealthy people.
When Val’s daughter Jéssica arrives for a short stay, her
employers are more than happy to accommodate her seeing how happy it will make Val. But Val’s world is quickly turned upside down when it becomes shockingly
clear that Jéssica has no such illusions about life that her mother was born with.
Jéssica has much bigger ambitions than her mother and her
attitude is that if she studies hard she will have the same opportunities in
life as anyone. She thinks it perfectly normal to be treated as an equal guest
in the house regardless of her mother’s employment as a house maid.
It’s fascinating and entertaining to observe the tense
conflicts between mother and daughter as well as how the wealthy employer, who
wants to seem gracious but also preserve the status quo, suddenly feeling
threatened by the less fortunate but more determined and expressive lower class
This movie is well worth seeing for its amusing social
commentary and its wonderful ensemble performances which won the World Cinema
Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting for its two lead actors at the 2015
Sundance Film Festival. The film also won the Panorama Audience Award at the
Berlin International Film Festival.
Brazilian cinema has steadily been gaining world attention
with such powerful, insightful and artful contemporary films as The Year My Parents Went on Vacation
(2008), Neighboring Sounds (2012) and
Brazilian Western (2013).