Eve (Gabriela Cartol) works hard to climb the ladder of success, aspiring to the 42nd executive floor of her luxurious glass tower in Mexico City. But she can only fantasize about the lives of its other inhabitants through the things they leave behind. Eve is "The Chambermaid."
Cowriter (with Juan Márquez)/director Lila Avilés shines a light on the life of a woman who crosses paths with many but is seen by few. This particular hotel worker makes it more difficult than most, Eve so committed to her goal she generally keeps to herself, a characteristic which we discover serves her well. Unfortunately, circumstance prods her out of her shell.
Avilés opens with a humorous, startling scene. Eve tackles a particularly chaotic bedroom, her movements sharp and brisk until she begins to gather up the bed’s duvet. An older man has partially slid out of the bed and as he stands, blinking, Eve backs out of the room apologizing. This scene could be an inverted metaphor for Eve herself, whose calm exterior never hints at her ambition or that she is the mother of 4 year-old Ruben whose caretaker, Maguitos, she calls whenever she can catch a moment or that, for some reason, she is very desirous of a red party dress about to be released from Lost and Found.
What we do know is that Eve is responsible for the 21st floor, but there is give and take among the staff so when she gets a call over her walkie talkie from Skinny on the 18th asking her to respond to a ‘female’ issue, she does. There she finds a woman (Agustina Quinci) very comfortable with nudity massaging coconut oil into her nipples who cajoles Eve into babysitting her infant for ‘just two minutes’ while she takes a shower. Martichino responds favorably to Eve, who continues to watch him, an offer of accompanying them back to Buenos Aires for better money dangled tantalizingly.
The tips she receives help as well, but they are just one aspect of an entire underground trade and barter system. Another worker pesters Eve to buy her food storage containers and when Eve signs up for a GED class run by her union, the very friendly Minitoy (Teresa Sánchez) tries to sell her something else she does not need. Eve evades the sales pitches but responds to Minitoy’s frequent offers of help and irreverent humor (which perhaps emboldens her to respond in quite another way to a smitten window washer).
We never see Eve outside of her work environment and it is a pretty colorless world, cinematographer Carlos Rossini’s mostly static camera framing Eve against white bed linens, white laundry and hazy white skies outside hotel room windows. It is not until dual betrayals signaled by two red ‘flags’ dash her dreams that we see some color in a space denied her.
Robin also gives "The Chambermaid" a B+.
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