The Second Mother (15) | Close-Up Film Review

The Second Mother

Dir. Anna Muylaert, Brazil, 2014, 110 mins, in Portuguese with subtitles

Cast: Regina Case, Camila Mardila, Michel Joelsas

Certainly worth a look is The Second Mother, which is set in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  It tells the story of Val (Regina Case) who has left her own child in a small town in the north of Brazil to be brought up by relatives while she earns money as a nanny in the big city.  While she feels guilty at having left her daughter Jessica, she also feels loving towards her charge Fabinho (Michel Joelsas), whose mother has her own busy life and spends little quality time with her son.

Suddenly after 13 years, Jessica (Camila Márdila) now the same age as Fabinho, wants to come to Sao Paulo to study. She is not happy to discover that she has to live with her mother in the house of her employers.  Jessica is even less content to learn that she is supposed to share the same small bedroom.  She soon makes it clear that while her mother has to do what her employers dictate she is not their servant.  She manages to get the guest bedroom and makes a friend of the husband of the family, to the chagrin of the mother.

Val realises that her daughter thinks that the family look on her as a second class citizen – she is not allowed to use the swimming pool even in the very hot weather – and Jessica presents her with a second chance to be a real mother to her.  Val  is forced to make decisions on her daughter and also on her present life.

A very well written film and directed by the writer, Anna Muylaert who manages to inject wider views about the state of workers and how they are forced to work away from their children in Brazil.  The changes that are happening today in Brazil are reflected in the film.

There is a terrific central performance by Case who inhabits the Nanny with a real sense of the conflict she faces – being with her charge as a second mother or caring for her own daughter.  Good performances from the rest of the cast make this a must-see film.

Review by Carlie Newman