The Chambermaid

Reviewed by Chris Coombes

Last Sunday's film, The Chambermaid, had the feel of something small and very intimate – although it was packed with huge issues that many people throughout the world have to grapple with every day. They do grim, poorly paid jobs that insulate those who are better off from the realities of life, they are away from their children for long hours, they are often women and – in spite of their best efforts – for many there is no real way out to a better life.

'The Chambermaid' is a Mexican film directed by Lila Aviles. Many of the shots are extremely close up forcing us to get to know the central character, Eve, in spite of the fact that it might feel uncomfortable to do so. The film is claustrophobic and slow, so at times it is a difficult watch but this certainly enables us to come somewhere close to feeling Eve's frustration. She works in a large hotel cleaning up after all sorts of guests who barely notice her or who actively exploit her. Her ambition is to get to the 42nd floor of the hotel where conditions are better. Another ambition is to get hold off a beautiful red dress that has been left behind in lost property. This she manages to achieve. The dress is a symbol of hope that fast turns to a symbol of her anger and hurt as she is overlooked regarding the 42nd floor job, and she begins to understand just how disempowered she is. The photography is beautiful with lots of grey and white dominating so that the red dress shines out like a beacon of hope and then the incarnation of her despair.

Eve is a feisty, determined person who is full of integrity, but seemingly this is not going to help her. She leaves work at the end of the film through the revolving door of the public entrance to the hotel. We are left not knowing if she intends to return, but given the relentless misfortune that we have witnessed I would guess should would be back for the next shift and the next and the next...