The Maid explores the layers of social strata in Chile, through the vehicle of a maid to an upper class family, whom she has served for over twenty years. Raquel, played with a self-effacing flair by Catalina Saavedra, has begun to question where her life is headed. She has no real family of her own – although there is a mother out there whom she calls periodically. To Director Sebastián Silva’s credit he allows Raquel to be a three dimensional character. It would have been easy to depict her as a long suffering domestic, but the familty is actually pretty fair with her, and she is somewhat difficult. In an effort to get her some help and lighten her burden, the family hires a series of maids to help out, but she makes their lives difficult. The first chance she gets, they are locked out of the house. She’s sullen and increasingly a bit erratic. She may have a deep fear of being replaced and being turned out at 41 from the only job she’s ever known. We see though, that the mother (Pilar) would never let that happen. In fact, she turns a blind eye to all of Raquel’s foibles, thus alienating the extra help she tries to bring in. Raquel has raised all the kids in the house and favors the younger ones. The older the kids get, the more she draws back from them.
Then Sonia is hired, a bright, cheerful domestic, with a big heart and a sense of humor, who jogs after work for exercise. Sonia pulls Raquel out of her shell and even asks Raquel to accompany her home to spend Christmas with her family. The film opened with the families birthday for Raquel, a desultory affair, which Raquel really doesn’t want to attend, preferring to get back to her chores. Now though, it’s the suddenly smiling Raquel who plans a birthday party for Sonia. Eventually Sonia gets lonely for her own familty and moves back home.
The end sees Raquel taking up Sonia’s habit of jogging. The feeling is that she has blossomed under the friendship of Sonia, and has become her own person. A great character study and a sensitive exploration of family dynamics.