The Second Mother Screen 12 articles

The Second Mother

2015

The Second Mother Poster
  • In effect, the lack of explicitness damns The Second Mother, as character relations are hinted at and even primed for confrontation, but without payoff or meaningful conclusion.

  • There’s a rah-rah element to The Second Mother that undermines its sociological ambition, especially when Val suddenly, speedily gets her groove back in the closing minutes. The film spends nearly two hours saying what Salles and Thomas did [in The Motorcycle Diaries] in just a handful of minutes, and somehow manages to be comparatively reductive rather than expansive.

  • The director, Anna Muylaert, augments the tension with her visual style, using the wide frame and doorways to establish Val’s perspective. But “The Second Mother” goes soft toward the end, defusing its conflicts too easily and inconsequentially.

  • The writer and director, Anna Muylaert, lets Casé ham it up as Val, who bustles about the house in a tumult of emotionalism without any hidden impulses or desires to fuel it; the characters’ pigeonholed social roles display Muylaert’s intentions from the start and render the drama superfluous.

  • Brazilian director Anna Muylaert’s deft, funny film is set in São Paulo, but the class distinctions shown have no borders. Fiercely intelligent Jessica doesn’t understand Val’s subservient behavior (“How did you learn these things? Is there a handbook?” she snaps).

  • Brazilian filmmaker Anna Muylaert began writing her new film, The Second Mother, two decades ago, when she hired a nanny to care for her first child. It's a quieter, more ruminative comedy [than The Maid], but like Silva, Muylaert is as alive to the comic possibilities of liberal guilt as she is to the plight of the ill-paid maids who quietly run innumerable households all around the Americas.

  • This isn’t groundbreaking stuff, but it’s consistently well-observed and engaging. The cast is terrific, and Muylaert has an understated assurance in her handling of film language. The depiction of a door that separates a large house’s kitchen from its dining room is especially astute throughout. As are Muyleart’s frequent uses of long, unbroken takes.

  • Director Muylaert (who reportedly worked on the script in collaboration with Casé) keeps her pacing brisk and surprisingly suspenseful, even though this is a film built on subtle transgressions... It smartly uses its little moments of humiliation to open our eyes to a world of delicate, but deep, injustice.

  • Muylaert presents this chain reaction as the stuff of wry comedy; except for Jessica, the characters are so accustomed to keeping up appearances that they can't bring themselves to say what's bugging them. Their interactions may be mild, but the claustrophobic imagery creates the sense of being trapped in a powder keg.

  • ++

    Sight & Sound: Maria Delgado
    July 31, 2015 | September 2015 Issue (p. 87)

    Muylaert's feature suggests a great deal about the household's attitudes to class through the deployment of a number of visual motifs that slyly comment on the wider issues of privilege underpinning Brazilian society... The Second Mother impressively avoids delivering judgements on characters that could all too easily have become clichéd stereotypes.

  • In this sharp, unpredictable Brazilian comedy-drama, the writer-director Anna Muylaert creates piercing moments as she depicts salt-of-the-earth Val (Regina Casé) confronting her ambitious college-age daughter, Jessica (Camila Márdila), after a 10-year estrangement. This movie has robust verve and visual originality, as well as complex social awareness.

  • Muylaert cuts through hypocritical bullshit with stinging honesty but manages to keep the warmth of humanity alive through the central relationship... The Second Mother strikes a passionate moral chord that also connects with conversations about the importance of achieving social change through cross-generational education.

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