Dir: Lila Avilés, 2018, Mexico, 102 mins, Cert: 15
Mon 2 September 2019 // 20:00
Tickets: £5 (full) / £4 (concession)
Former actor Lila Avilés’s striking, highly acclaimed début feature, a nuanced observational drama, follows the kind, conscientious Eve (Gabriela Cartol), who works long hours as a maid at a luxurious hotel in Mexico City.
A young single mother, Eve aspires to better things and hopes that her diligence will be rewarded with a coveted spot cleaning the Hotel Presidente’s penthouse floor. She enrols in the hotel’s adult education programme, but quickly discovers it’s not necessarily the most hard-working who get noticed for advancement.
Employing a quasi-documentary approach, Avilés’s camera accompanies Eve as she quietly enters one indistinguishable hotel room after another, cleaning up another stranger’s anonymous yet intimate messes. As she makes friends, engages in a flirtation with a window cleaner and continually works towards promotion, we become privy to her journey of self-discovery, her desires, doubts and dreams. Alongside dry humour and sly observations about class, privilege and exploitation in the hotel, a microcosm of the inequities of contemporary Mexican society, The Chambermaid also offers moments of beauty, tenderness and freedom that feel like glimmers of humanity.
★★★★★ 'This is brilliantly confident film-making...a masterpiece of restraint.' Simran Hans, The Observer
★★★★★ 'It's a fabulous piece of cinema...Lila Avilés, director and co-writer (with Juan Marquéz), creates a symphony of textured silences.' Nigel Andrews, The Financial Times
★★★★★ 'This quiet profile of Mexico's working class is close to perfect.' Tim Robey, The Daily Telegraph
★★★★★ The Chambermaid is every bit as “cinematic” as any Fast & Furious flick. No trace of the literary or theatrical remains in Avilés’s long takes and snatched, blank dialogue. The picture wraps a whole world around us. A perfect, cinematic sketch of a working life’ Donald Clarke, The Irish Times
★★★★ Film of the Week -' Lila Avilés is the Mexican actor-turned-director who makes a terrifically assured feature début with The Chambermaid: an eerily atmospheric, poignant, disquieting movie about 21st-century luxury and the invisible servant class required to maintain it. It is a film to put alongside Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, in that it’s about the emotional cost of submission.' Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian