Live-In Maid (Cama Adentro) really touched me. It’s the story of a time of transition in the lives of Beba (Norma Aleandro) and her longtime maid, Dora (Norma Argentina). The two have lived together in Buenos Aires for nearly 30 years, but Beba has recently fallen on tough times. She hasn’t paid Dora in seven months, and she’s been reduced to selling cosmetics and pawning her personal effects. She appears to have no real prospects, few friends, and no support system. At home, she’s fairly helpless—even when it comes to simple things like pouring a drink.
Despite what one of the chatty women behind me in the theater seemed to think, though, the relationship isn’t entirely one-sided. Dora respects Beba’s sense of style and approach to life. In the past, too, Beba has obviously taken care of Dora when necessary. More fundamentally, Dora has simply become a member of Beba’s family. These women are dependent on one another.
Live-In Maid isn’t really so much about what happens at this one point in time. Instead, director Jorge Gaggero is interested in having us experience the relationship at this moment. This isn’t to say that nothing happens in the film; indeed, something fairly dramatic does happen. But I left the theater thinking more about Beba and Dora’s ties, not so concerned about particular plot points.
Both of the lead actresses are quite good. Aleandro, a prominent Argentine actress who earned an Academy Award nomination for Gaby: A True Story, absolutely commands your attention. Argentina, amazingly, is a neophyte, one who has actually done some housekeeping; her inexperience simply doesn’t show.
On my four-star scale, I give Live-In Maid three solid stars.