By Ramanan Sundaralingam
It is amazing to learn that The Chambermaid was shot in a fully operational hotel in just 17 days, as in the span of just over 100 minutes. This film captures a pressing issue majority of the world's population faces.
In this emotional film, Director Lila Aviles portrays the challenges faced by the Mexican working-class in her debut feature film, The Chambermaid. The story is told through the lens of an ambitious, yet timid chambermaid who works tirelessly to pursue her dream of climbing up the ranks at an up-market hotel in Mexico City.
© TIFF Trailers | YouTube
Lead actress, Gabriela Cartol, plays the part of Eve; a quiet, unimposing cleaner who is faced daily with the task of tidying up after guests in the hotel. In following Eve through her routine, it was easy to relate each guest to the various types of individuals one may encounter on a daily basis. A perfectly mixed bag of personalities ranging from the downright disrespectful, to the pleasantly quirky and chatty.
The Chambermaid won multiple awards at the Los Cabos Film Festival and Ventana Sur even before it was completed. The film highlights the stark divide that exists in the world today between the wealthy and the working class. It also shows us that discrimination can exist in the form of inequity, even without the inequalities of a few decades ago. As such, Eve comes to understand that hard work doesn't necessarily result in success. A high rise, luxurious hotel overlooking the city is an excellent choice of a setting where wealthy guests have access to all the material happiness money can buy. And yet, something seems to be missing; perhaps the serenity of simplicity. Eve embodies this simplicity, however, it is apparent that she too is missing something.
The style of filming and the strict, often trivial policies enforced by the cleaning supervisor, make the luxury hotel feel like a prison. This is evidenced by the fact that the majority of the film is shot inside the hotel. In the midst of harsh realities, there are light-hearted moments in Eve's encounters with other hotel staff, such as budding friendships with colleagues, and a peculiar romance with a window cleaner. In one scene, she longingly gazes at the world outside through the panoramic windows of the rooms she's cleaning, overcome with a desire to escape the cage of concrete and glass.
For more insight on The Chambermaid, watch the Q&A below:
© TIFF Talks | YouTube
The raw authenticity captured in the film blurs the lines between fiction and documentary and gives the audience a peek into what modern-day slavery looks like from the point of view of a working mother.
*Editor’s Note: Chambermaid was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival ‘18.
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