The Movie Waffler Raindance Film Festival 2024 Review - THE QUIET MAID | The Movie Waffler

Raindance Film Festival 2024 Review - THE QUIET MAID

The Quiet Maid review
A Colombian maid plots against her exploitative Spanish employers.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Miguel Faus

Starring: Paula Grimaldo, Ariadna Gil, Pol Hermoso, Luis Bermejo Nany Tovar

The Quiet Maid poster

Writer/director Miguel Faus opens his feature debut, The Quiet Maid, with a striking shot of the film's title character, Colombian maid Ana (Paula Grimaldo), cleaning a window. The camera is positioned in a way that makes it seem as though Ana is breaking the fourth wall and cleaning the very screen through which we're watching the movie. As a maid, Ana's job is to be invisible, to be neither seen nor heard, but from the very first shot she's making her presence felt.

The Quiet Maid review

Having impressed her employers - a wealthy Barcelona family who have made their fortune through art dealing - Ana is brought to their summer home on the Catalan coast. The family matriarch, Andrea (Ariadna Gil), lays out her expectations of Ana. In exchange for working tirelessly seven days a week over the summer, Ana will be rewarded by Andrea and her husband Pedro (Luis Bermojo) using their influence to pull strings and have the Colombian fast-tracked for a Spanish visa. It seems like a dubious promise, but Ana accepts it. As an illegal worker she doesn't have many options, and she's desperate to earn enough money to send her younger sister to college back in Colombia.

Ana does what's expected of her. She keeps her head down and stays out of the family's way unless called upon. She's treated as though she's invisible by her employers, who speak about her when she's clearly in earshot. The family's wannabe influencer daughter Claudia (Violeta Rodriguez) has no problem being naked in Ana's presence, as though she were a family pet rather than a human who might feel uncomfortable with such intimacy. Their son, Jacobo (Pol Hermoso), is friendly towards Ana, but his attention grows increasingly sinister (making the awful Jacobo a crypto-bro is deliciously ironic, as the movie was funded through NFT sales).

The Quiet Maid review

Ana's routine is rocked when she's befriended by Gisela (Nany Tovar), a fellow Colombian who works as a maid for a neighbouring family. In contrast to the servile Ana, Gisela is rebellious, constantly mocking their wealthy Spanish employers. It's not long before she's sneaking Ana out for late night parties on a nearby beach. The resulting hangovers affect Ana's work, which doesn't go unnoticed by an increasingly suspicious Andrea. Coupled with Pedro's determination to poison the stray cat Ana has befriended, this causes the maid to stage a quiet revolution against her employers.

The Quiet Maid is a class conflict drama that gradually morphs into something of a heist thriller. We spend the first half of the movie observing Ana at work in a manner not unlike Lila Avilés' similarly themed Mexican drama The Chambermaid. Much of the film plays out in wide shots, with Ana viewed at a remove, but every now and then Faus will cut to a close-up that rests on Ana's face. In these shots we can see the cogs turning in her mind as she silently assesses her situation and begins to formulate plots. On paper The Quiet Maid has a similar narrative to Saltburn, that of a wealthy family infiltrated by someone plotting against them in their midst, but it couldn't be more different in execution. The bombastic excess of Saltburn is replaced here by quiet, studied filmmaking, a show, don't tell approach from Faus that requires the audience to pay attention less to what's being said and more to what's being considered. It requires a strong performer to pull it off, and Grimaldo, who played the same role for Faus in his earlier short Calladita, is more than up to the task. Over the course of the film she evolves from a quiet mouse to a femme fatale, and when she turns full-on slinky dress seductress in the final act it's an impressively organic progression from the shrewish servant we were initially introduced to.

The Quiet Maid review

Faus's film also has much in common with Joseph Losey's British class war classic The Servant, with Hermoso's performance as the spoilt but unhappy Jacobo not unlike that of James Fox. The key distinction is that unlike Dirk Bogarde's devious butler, who plots his employer's downfall from the start, Ana grows into the role of usurper, a reaction to her treatment at the hands of her employers, which ranges from patronising to abusive. It's invigorating to watch Ana transform from a dutiful slave to a class warrior, and by the time we realise the details of her plan we're fully rooting for her to pull it off. For anyone who has had to bite their tongue or clench their fist for the sake of keeping a job they can't afford to lose, Ana is a protagonist to get behind. Not all heroes wear capes; some wear aprons.

The Quiet Maid
 plays at the 2024 Raindance Film Festival on June 20th.

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