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The Second Mother (2015)The Second Mother (2015)

The Second Mother (2015)

An engaging and well-thought-out Brazilian drama

Drama

7.9

movie

Brazil

English, Portuguese

Slice-of-Life, Sunday, Without plot

2015

Anna Muylaert, Female director

Camila Márdila, Helena Albergaria, Hugo Villavicenzio

112 min

Synopsis

After leaving her daughter Jessica in a small town in Pernambuco to be raised by relatives, Val spends the next 13 years working as a nanny to Fabinho in São Paulo. She has financial stability but has to live with the guilt of having not raised Jessica herself. As Fabinho’s university entrance exams approach, Jessica reappears in her life and seems to want to give her mother a second chance. However, Jessica has not been raised to be a servant and her very existence will turn Val’s routine on its head. With precision and humour, the subtle and powerful forces that keep rigid class structures in place and how the youth may just be the ones to shake it all up.

Our Take

7.9
Staff

Val is a housekeeper for a wealthy family in São Paulo. She is close with every family member, and acts as the title would suggest – as a second mother, but there are clear reminders of her status. One is the sheer amount of work she has to do, from cooking to cleaning and responding to random demands.

Val’s estranged daughter visits her, a bright kid who is on her way to university. This brings out more of the maid/employer dynamics: if Val is “family”, why would she and her daughter have to sleep in a small cramped room when the guest room is empty?

Questions like these threaten the family’s balance and the uneasy existence that millions around the world have as housekeepers.

It’s a great and well-thought-out drama, one that would make the perfect centerpiece for a movie night or a movie club pick.

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