‘The Chambermaid’ Review: Claustrophobic Drama About Modern Servitude

Eve (Gabriella Cartol) is a chambermaid in a luxury hotel in Mexico city. We follow her routine and the interactions she has with the hotel guests. She finds herself isolated from her fellow maids and challenged by the supreme loneliness of her role.
Director Lila Avilés offers a very singular view of Eve. She has a child but we never see her outside of the context of the hotel. Although she is in every scene, she is often not the focus of the camera. She moves around in the periphery, quietly toiling away. The effect is a very claustrophobic vision of modern servitude.
She’s management structure is almost entirely unseen. She interacts with human resources regarding an unclaimed red dress she wishes to acquire from Lost Property and she has some sequences with supervisors. Otherwise, the systems that control her actions are largely unseen. She’s a prisoner with no guards and there’s something dystopic about her situation.
Cartol plays the character so magnanimously animosily that little glimpses of her inner thoughts, feelings, and needs are tantalizing. Especially a provocative sequence involving the window cleaner. Its a quietly powerful performance.
The Chambermaid is a fascinating and troubling inside into the psychological state of someone too often overlooked. Its a jarring and disturbing impression of modern servitude.
Four Stars

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