The Chambermaid (La camarista)
Gabriela Cartol, Teresa Sánchez
Former actor Lila Avilés’s striking, highly acclaimed debut feature, a nuanced observational drama, follows the kind, conscientious Eve (Gabriela Cartol), who works long hours as a maid at a luxurious hotel in Mexico City. A young single mother, Eve aspires to better things and hopes that her diligence will be rewarded with a coveted spot cleaning the Hotel Presidente’s penthouse floor. She enrols in the hotel’s adult education programme, but quickly discovers it’s not necessarily the most hard-working who get noticed for advancement.
Employing a quasi-documentary approach, Avilés’s camera accompanies Eve as she quietly enters one indistinguishable hotel room after another, cleaning up another stranger’s anonymous yet intimate messes. As she makes friends, engages in a flirtation with a window cleaner and continually works towards promotion, we become privy to her journey of self-discovery, her desires, doubts and dreams. Alongside dry humour and sly observations about class, privilege and exploitation in the hotel, a microcosm of the inequities of contemporary Mexican society, The Chambermaid also offers moments of beauty, tenderness and freedom that feel like glimmers of humanity.