The Maid

Director: Sebastian Silva
Screenwriters: Pedro Peirano, Sebastian Silva

Institute History

  • 2009 Sundance Film Festival


After 23 years of service to the Valdes family, Raquel is comfortably ensconced in a vague existence between maid and her illusion that she is a family member. Her barely concealed bitterness and increased clashes with her employer's eldest daughter lead the family to think she is overworked. They hire more help, and, feeling usurped, Raquel begins to sabotage each new employee by resorting to childish antics, clinging to her ambiguous place within the family.

In his remarkably astute second feature, Sebastián Silva questions, without bias, a dusty remnant of class division—the common, Latin American, aristocratic tradition of serfdom. Within this complex dynamic, we are privy to the inner workings of a well-intentioned family's relationship with their servant—however endearingly the word is used. Silva wields his handheld camera like a magnifying glass, revealing Raquel’s fenced-in fragility, and watching her evolve is truly touching. Astonishing in its intimacy, the film wrings awkward humor from the alienated Raquel's mind games. Only Lucy, last in the line of new maids, is able to nudge Raquel gently toward the momentous kick-start needed to rediscover herself.

Sebastián Silva's hungry curiosity to examine the intersection of social and personal forces produces a painful, yet satisfying, comedic drama that shakes up and humanizes an insidious system.

— Christine Davila

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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