The Second Mother (Que Horas Ela Volta?)
Dir. Anna Muylaert , 2016 | 112 mins
Veteran director Anna Muylaert’s The Second Mother dissects with precision and humour contemporary Brazilian class differences and family dynamics. The film revolves around Val, a hard- working live-in housekeeper in modern day Sao Paulo. Val is perfectly content to take care of every one of her wealthy employers’ needs, from cooking and cleaning to being a surrogate mother to their teenage son, who she has raised since he was a toddler. But when Val’s estranged daughter Jessica suddenly shows up, the unspoken but intrinsic class barriers that exist within the home are thrown into disarray. Jessica is smart, confident, and ambitious, and refuses to accept the upstairs/downstairs dynamic, testing relationships and loyalties and forcing everyone to reconsider what family really means. This engaging film won the Special Jury Award for Acting at Sundance Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Film in the Panorama Section at the Berlin Film Festival.
Portuguese with English subtitles.
“Muylaert’s camera—the cinematography is by Barbara Alvarez—moves with fluid expressiveness, its sometimes unorthodox placement dictated not by a desire to “direct” but by the emotional grammar of the dramatic situation at hand.”