The fourth feature film directed by the Brazilian screenwriter and TV and film director Anna Muylaert The Second Mother (2015) is a wonderfully light-hearted movie, with a wicked sense humour but fundamental socially aware. It’s a tale of displaced family relationships, privilege, and class attitudes in modern Brazil, but to its credit is never judgemental.
|Val with her 'children'.|
For the past 13 years Val has been working as a housekeeper, maid, and general factotum for a well off Sao Paulo family virtually bringing up Fabinho who has more love for his nanny (the second mother of the title) than his own busy professional mother Barbara. Val has not seen her own daughter Jessica for over ten years but has been sending money to finance her upbringing and education. Then out of the blue Val gets a phone call from Jessica announcing that she is coming to stay with her so she can take her college entrance exams, hopefully qualifying as an architect. Val is ecstatic and with the help the family gets ready to receive her daughter but things turn out not quite as she expected.
Regina Case who plays Val is a delight, she is a Brazilian comedian and television host as well as an actress, she started to appear in feature films in the 1970's but an actress I was not familiar with – which turned out to be my loss. The sour faced Barbara is played by Karine Teles, apathetic Fabinho is played by Michel Joelsas, and Camila Mardila puts meaning into ‘cleverly scheming’ as Jessica with Lourenco Mutarelli as Carlos rounding off a very talented cast. This extremely enjoyable movie is based on the director’s own experiences with a nanny and took nine months to make and was filmed in an affluent neighbourhood in Sao Paulo. The Portuguese title of the film is Que Horas Ela Volta, which translates as ‘When is she coming back’.