February 11, 2016
Showtimes: 6:30 & 8:30 pm
Director: Anna Muylaert
Cast: Regina Casé, Helena Albergaria, Michel Joelsas
Runtime: 112 minutes
Audience Award: Berlin International Film Festival; Top International Film, National Board of Review; Special Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival
“Muylaert’s film is an effervescent comic drama that delights in the disruption of traditional upstairs/downstairs dynamics.” – Julian Carrington, Globe and Mail
The opening of The Second Mother—a simple scene of a housekeeper taking care of a young boy after he’s had a swim, while juggling a phone call to her own daughter—encapsulates everything the movie is about. It’s honest, observant, and unaffected, and writer-director Anna Muylaert never falters from that moment on.
Regina Casé plays Val, a woman who has devoted herself to a prosperous family in Sao Paolo as their housekeeper and nanny—while her own daughter has been raised (on her earnings) by her ex-husband and his second wife in her home town, far away.
Suddenly, Val hears from her daughter—whom she hasn’t seen in ten years—because the girl wants to come to Sao Paolo to study at a prestigious university. Seeing Val as one of the family, her employers have no quarrel with young Jessica (Camila Márdila) coming to live with her mother while they look for an apartment of their own.
But once the brash young woman arrives, the household dynamic is thrown out of whack. Muylaert takes her story in unusual directions. Characters reveal colours and facets of themselves not discerned at first.
Val is the anchor of all the emotional tumult, a woman who has willingly sacrificed everything of her own—until her estranged daughter forces her to re-examine her life, and ponder her future. Regina Casé offers a commanding, genuine, and often hilarious performance. Casé and the movie are quite special.