THE SECOND MOTHER, a new Brazilian film from Anna Muylaert, will probably be Sebastián Silva's Chilean mini-masterpiece, The Maid. Both are first-rate explorations of family, class and work in today's South America, as they examine character, self-image and one's ability to change and grow. And both are spectacularly smart, witty, politically progressive and genuinely humane entertainments.
Regina Casé (shown above and below), the maid Val is a wonder of seemingly limitless affection and concern, especially for the boy, Fabinho (shown above as a young child and below as a teen played with appropriate raw youth and uncertainty by Michel Joelsas). Val has been with this family long enough to guide Fabinho toward manhood, and he is more her child than is even her own daughter, Jessica, whom she had to abandon to other relatives in order to earn enough money for Jessica's support down the years.
Camila Márdila, below, center, at bottom, and on poster, top) suddenly arrives to see her mom for the first time in a decade, everyone's life is thrown into disarray. The great strength of Muylaert's movie is that all this happens not quite as expected and with a different set of consequences from what our expectations hold -- even after we've been disabused of some of our earlier notions. The writer/director is not afraid to toss in a couple of events that might strain credulity -- and then make these both funny and utterly, if oddly, believable.
Oscilloscope, in Portuguese with English subtitles, and running 112 minutes -- opens this Friday, August 28, in Los Angeles (at Laemmle's Royal) and New York City (at the Angelika Film Center and The Paris Theatre) and from there over the weeks to come in another 35 cities/theaters -- including, on September 25, our own Living Room Theater in Boca Raton. Click here and scroll down to see all currently scheduled playdates.