Live-In Maid


Beba (Norma Aleandro) is a middle-aged woman-child clinging to the shards of her fortune as the Argentine economy falls apart. Even after she’s forced to take a job selling cosmetics door-to-door (there are some deliciously degrading scenes of her glopping beauty cream onto prospective buyers’ arms), she will not relinquish her vast, chilly apartment—or her maddeningly competent maid Dora (Norma Argentina), who hasn’t been paid in seven months. As the weeks creep by and Beba’s financial situation becomes more desperate, her relationship with Dora changes; at times it is sisterly, at times mother-daughterly, at times loverly. Beba and Dora never stop dancing around each other in an intricate, painful pas de deux. The more orders Beba gives, the less she is in charge. Director Jorge Gaggero wisely confines almost all of the action to Beba’s hermetic apartment, where the surfaces are kept polished to a high sheen, and pays deep attention to the grunts, wrinkles, and sighs of daily life; the result is a film of startling insight and grace. Aleandro, a star in Argentina, is a marvel of a ditz, and Argentina, a first-time actress, draws on a lifetime of experience as a maid for her portrait of Dora.