"The Chambermaid" is a poor man's answer to Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma." Where "Roma" painted on a huge canvas, juxtaposing the isolation of the main character's existence amidst the swirling carnival of life happening around her, the world as we know it might as well not exist at all in "The Chambermaid." Or rather, the world is reduced to the hushed hallways, empty rooms, and service areas of a luxury hotel. That's where Eve works and never seems to leave. Her days are comprised of cleaning and taking care of other people's needs while taking care of none of her own. We see her half-heartedly pursuing classes in order to earn her GED, and we know she has a child she adores but only because we see her on the phone checking in with the person taking care of him. She doesn't seem to have any kind of dating life to speak of, though because of a couple of scenes we know she's a sexual being. Her job is making her sick, but she pushes through the moments when she feels most unwell. "The Chambermaid" is a sobering film, and it's not that much fun to sit through. But it's a very well made film, and there's something quietly mesmerizing about watching one of the nameless, faceless millions that the world is full of and who we interact with every day without really seeing slowly evolve into a full-bodied character with a rich interior life before our eyes. That this happens through long static shots and little dialogue makes the feat even more impressive. Kudos have to go to Gabriela Cartol, the actress who plays Eve and is in virtually every frame of the film. This is the kind of performance that will never garner any wide recognition, but it's one that should. The only time we see Eve outside the walls of the hotel is in the film's very last shot. But even then, though we're relieved to see her finally interacting with the larger world, we have to ask ourselves if there's any place in it for her. Grade: A
A look at the working environment of a chambermaid in one of Mexico City's most luxurious hotels.
January 12, 2021