Live-in Maid
Low-Budget, But High-Quality

Beba Pujol is a fashionable woman who has fallen on hard times. She and her husband have divorced—who knows when. All that is left of her former life of ease is her large apartment with its fashionable furniture, and the maid.

Dora has served Beba and her family for thirty years. The tenuous economy in Argentina has taken a turn for the worse, and Beba can no longer afford to pay Dora for her service. After seven months of no paychecks, Dora finally has the gumption to quit; Dora is an amazing and unique individual. She sees beneath Beba’s sophisticated exterior and realizes a deep need—actually many deep needs. Dora takes a position close by so she can give a couple of hours to Beba every day.

Norma Aleandro as Beba in Live-in Maid

Beba has been served for so long she has forgotten how to take care of herself. She is woefully helpless when it comes to even the simplest of chores, like cleaning up after herself and caring for her health. Beba also realizes she needs Dora as more than a hired servant, but has a friend and caretaker. The scenario is similar to that which is pointed out in Up From Slavery. Booker T. Washington describes how many slaves came back to work the plantations for their former masters, now with pay of course, because only they had any idea how to actually run the farms. In some instances the slaves were the managers and only reason that the farms made money at all.

Live-in Maid is a quality foreign film. The tale it tells is very compelling and effectively told through some pretty clever cinematography. At the outset of the film, the shots are filmed in a keyhole style. You don’t see faces. You see bodies moving around and living life, but they are alone in the world. We finally see Dora with her resoluteness and servant heart, cleaning and performing her duties, as well as can be expected with the dwindling cleaning supplies. Later as the delta of these two women forms and they become equals, the camera shots are softer and more emotive. No smarmy music either, but the effect is impressive.

I have seen several Argentinian movies, and all are very low budget—but lack of budget doesn’t have to translate into poor movie making. The best movies, like Live-in Maid, are those that capture the human spirit and teach some lessons. Or even better, give us pause to examine our own hearts. By contrast, think of a few films you may have seen over the years where an almost unlimited budget resulted in an extremely poor excuse of story-telling. Can you say Waterworld?

Live-in Maid is a touching film and a very thought provoking one as well. How many of us can assume the unfamiliar role of friend and supplicant from a person who socially is many rungs below us? The embarrassment of the loss and the blow to your pride at having been “the boss” could be too much for many people to take. Live-in Maid doesn’t tell us everything about the trip down from society, but it tells us enough. And Beba’s actions speak much louder than words. Excellent!

Live-in Maid is being released unrated. But I would say PG. The story is too deep for most young kids. But I would recommend this film as a perfect example of a good story that does not need to resort to excessive swearing, sex, or drug use. We get the characters well enough by their acting, with out all the props.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Mike attended a press screening of Live-in Maid.