Drama – 2018 – Mexico – 102 Minutes – Kino Lorber – In Spanish with English Subtitles – Unrated
A deluxe Mexico City hotel feels confining for Eve (Gabriela Cartol), a chambermaid whose days are filled with making beds, cleaning bathrooms, and running interference for a panoply of precious guests demanding special attention. A beautifully observed fiction film that feels uncomfortably real, The Chambermaid posits Eve’s disciplined schedule –beginning her day at 4 a.m. and ending it with a class to fulfill a high school diploma – with the guests’ capricious whims. As she yearns for independence within and beyond the confines of the hotel’s luxury walls, her hopes and desires materialize alongside a seething anger sparked by a newly feminist streak. Avilés’s film takes its inspiration from French artist Sophie Calle’s art project, The Hotel, in which she worked as a chambermaid and photographed objects left behind by guests. Minimal and hyper-realistic, the film leaves the viewer with hope that Eve will not herself become mere detritus.
Directed by Lila Avilés
“Critic’s Pick. Lila Avilés’s quietly stunning debut feature, is a work of closely observed workplace realism, but at times it achieves the strangeness and intensity of science fiction… the hotel hums with mystery and menace… Sometimes the rooms are already haunted in ways that can be sinister, comical or even sweet… The plot is a delicate and subtle thing… There are nonetheless, moments of human connection, solidarity and even freedom… its visual wit and emotional sensitivity lift it… After you’ve seen it, the world looks different.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times
“Quietly distinctive. Its protagonist is superbly played by Gabriela Cartol. THE CHAMBERMAID’s quietness, subtlety and modesty of style always keep it dramatically engaging. Cartol plays Eva with trembling sensitivity.” – Jonathan Holland, The Hollywood Reporter
“Avilés [has a] talent for droll observation and a keen eye for the unfamiliar. [Her] natural filmmaking talents are on full display from the jump. Avilés offsets the dogged proceedings with a welcome strain of absurdist humor.” – Lawrence Garcia, Film Comment
“Cartol gives an incredibly nuanced performance as Eve. It’s thrilling yet painful to watch her. Just as her subtle performance shapes the movie, so does the sleek, modern hotel where she works. The film may feel less epic in scale [than ROMA], but THE CHAMBERMAID is just as emotionally potent and perhaps even more successful at questioning the power dynamics of a workplace that has lost its sense of compassion.” – Monica Castillo, RogerEbert.com