×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Maids

This bright Brazilian comedy offers an entertaining view of cleaning ladies working in the metropolis of Sao Paulo. In "Maids," co-directors Fernando Meirelles and Nando Olival adopt the winning strategy of having characters tell their stories to the camera in their own humorous voices. It's a possibility for offbeat programming as well as fest fare.

With:
With: Claudia Missura, Grazielle Moretto, Lena Roque, Olivia Araujo, Renata Melo.

With a wit and naturalness that Ken Loach’s “Bread and Roses” might envy, this bright Brazilian comedy offers an entertaining view of cleaning ladies working in the metropolis of Sao Paulo. In “Maids,” co-directors Fernando Meirelles and Nando Olival adopt the winning strategy of having characters tell their stories to the camera in their own humorous voices. Though the maids are played by actresses (film is based on a successful stage play), their intercut stories are well-researched and convincing. Fast and funny, sexy and sad, pic jumps from one mood to another, holding audience interest not just narratively but with sophisticated film work. It’s a possibility for offbeat programming as well as fest fare.

Film establishes its ironic atmosphere from the start, when six housemaids are “interviewed” complaining about their employers (never seen in the film), explaining how they found their jobs, where they live and with whom. “Being a maid isn’t a wish — it’s fate,” intones one. Roxane, who gives herself airs, takes a modeling course that turns out to be an entry into hooking.

Another girl creates disaster wherever she’s hired. A woman whose husband is dullsville takes up with a sexy chauffeur. Another falls for a boy on the road to crime, and so on.

With skilled help from cinematographer Lauro Escorel, helmers make clever use of unexpected black-and-white sequences, direct narrative, fast motion and other techniques to keep visuals lively and erase the tale’s stage origin.

But equal credit goes to the ensemble cast of actresses, who communicate the hurt of being looked down on as expendable household help, while they bring the maids to life as likable, fully rounded individuals.

Maids

Brazil

Production: An O2 Filmes production. Produced by Andrea Barata Ribeiro. (International sales: Hank Levine Films, Sao Paulo.) Directed by Fernando Meirelles, Nando Olival. Screenplay, Cecilia Homem de Mello, Meirelles, Olival, Renata Melo, based on Melo's play.

Crew: Camera (color), Lauro Escorel; editor, Deo Teixeira; music, Andre Abujamra; art director, Frederico Pinto Tule Peake; sound (Dolby digital), Miriam Bidermam. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (competing), Jan. 25, 2001. Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Claudia Missura, Grazielle Moretto, Lena Roque, Olivia Araujo, Renata Melo.

More Film

  • Young Ahmed

    Cannes Film Review: 'Young Ahmed'

    There’s a darkness to “Young Ahmed” that audiences have never seen before in the work of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, the gifted Belgian brothers whose profoundly humane, unapologetically realist dramas have twice earned them the Palme d’Or in Cannes. Like surrogate parents to troubled children, the sibling directors have taken on their share of difficult [...]

  • Radegund

    Cannes: Fox Searchlight Nabs Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life'

    Fox Searchlight has picked up rights for U.S. and several international territories on Terrence Malick’s contemplative World War II drama “A Hidden Life,” following its enthusiastic reception at the Cannes Film Festival. “A Hidden Life” tells the true story of the Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter, who rejected Adolf Hitler and objected to the war. He [...]

  • China's Zhou Dongyu Is Focusing on

    China's Zhou Dongyu Plans to Focus on Acting, Says Female Roles Improving

    China’s Zhou Dongyu may have taken a recent turn as a producer, but the 27-year-old actress plans to focus on honing her craft in front of the camera rather than branching out too much into other roles behind it. She also believes that female roles are increasing in quantity and quality in China, and is [...]

  • German Films Cocktail Cannes 2019 CannesMay

    Cannes: German Films Celebrates Festival Films at Villa Rothschild

    Pictured: Peter Herrmann, chairman of German Films, Michael Weber of The Match Factory, and Simone Baumann, managing director of German Films. Simone Baumann, the managing director of German Films, celebrated the many German co-productions screening in the Cannes Film Festival at the promotional agency’s cocktail party Saturday at Villa Rothschild in Cannes. “Germany is one [...]

  • Steven Gaydos, Jacob Weydemann, Katriel Schory,

    Variety Celebrates 10 Producers to Watch in Cannes

    CANNES–Variety honored its 10 Producers to Watch for 2019 at a brunch on Monday morning at Cannes’ Plage des Palmes. Launched at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998, the annual event fetes 10 producers from the U.S. and the international film community who share a common commitment to bold, original, provocative storytelling. The films produced by [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content