It is not very often that an actor gives a film its heart and soul but this is indeed the case with Regina Case who makes Brazilian director Anna Muylaert's fourth film The Second Mother (Curzon Bloomsbury, Richmond and other selected cinemas from September 4 2015) such a memorable experience.
Val is the kind of live-in housekeeper who takes her work seriously. She dutifully serves her wealthy Sao Paulo employers while caring for their son, whom she raised since toddlerhood and with whom she has developed a touching relationship.
Everyone and everything on the elegant house has its place until one day Val's ambitious clever daughter Jessica arrives. Her confident youthful presence brings a new energy to the household, mixing up the time old balance of power, and Val is torn between two parties.
This socially conscious odyssey examines such areas as class boundaries, family dysfunction and loneliness with deftness, humour and without recourse to mawkishness or sentimentality. Indeed the tightly written, well-structured screenplay feels like a story-driven narrative, while exploring many complex ideas just underneath the surface. Furthermore, the elegant visual style serves the characters well.
The cast do a commendable job of delivering extremely naturalistic dialogue to make it feel like we are eavesdropping on the life of a real family.
This film really belongs to Regina Case, who brings warmth and affection to the role of Val and manages to communicate her emotional problems with true feeling. She and her co-star Camila Mardila, who is also excellent, both justifiably shared the Jury Prize for Acting at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
It would be a shame to miss this life-affirming gem of a movie!
The Second Mother
Runs at selected cinemas from Sunday September 4 2015.
Images: © 2015 – Oscilloscope PicturesLast modified: September 2, 2015