Movie Review: 'The Second Mother' The Brazilian movie, The Second Mother, is a film about the unspoken class barriers that exist within a home that come crashing down when the live-in housekeeper's daughter suddenly appears.
NPR logo

Movie Review: 'The Second Mother'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/435416032/435416033" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Movie Review: 'The Second Mother'

Review

Movie Reviews

Movie Review: 'The Second Mother'

Movie Review: 'The Second Mother'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/435416032/435416033" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Brazilian movie, The Second Mother, is a film about the unspoken class barriers that exist within a home that come crashing down when the live-in housekeeper's daughter suddenly appears.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Brazil's economy is struggling. Its exports to other countries are flagging. But it's made a top-quality export to some American theaters. It's a movie called, "The Second Mother." It's the story of a nanny who raises her employer's child at the expense of her own. Here's our critic, Kevin Turan.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "The Second Mother" is a soap opera with a social conscience. It casually mixes dramatic elements about serious class issues with a crowd-pleasing sensibility. And it's blessed with performances strong enough to win a special jury prize for acting at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The star of the show is definitely Regina Case, a celebrated Brazilian actor and television personality. She plays the emotional, enthusiastic Val. Val is a housekeeper who has done the cooking, cleaning and child raising for a wealthy Sao Paulo family for more than a decade, catering to their every whim.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE SECOND MOTHER")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character, speaking Portuguese).

REGINA CASE: (As Val, speaking Portuguese).

TURAN: Val has a young daughter of her own. She lives with relatives in another city, and Val hasn't seen her in years. Then, literally out of nowhere, comes a phone call. That daughter, Jessica, wants to come to Sao Paulo to take a college entrance exam. Jessica turns out to be a young woman of strong opinions with a sure sense of self. When she discovers the family has a guest room, she decides to stay there, much to Val's horror.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE SECOND MOTHER")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character, speaking Portuguese).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #3: (As character, speaking Portuguese).

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #4: (As character, speaking Portuguese).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, speaking Portuguese).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #4: (As character, speaking Portuguese).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character, speaking Portuguese).

TURAN: Jessica's presence turns into a major disruptive force, causing all the house's dynamics to spin slowly but inevitably out of control. Because Jessica does what she wants and has contempt for the boundaries that Val has always taken for granted, she makes the class distinctions in the house unavoidably explicit. This may sound more dialectical than diverting, but it's the gift of "The Second Mother" to pay attention to the farcical elements and to clothe serious issues in warm human situations. And star Case's bravura performance as Val is so realistic, viewers unfamiliar with her career may think they're watching the real thing. And in the best possible sense, they are.

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.