Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Maid’s Room: Welcome to the Hamptons
does the kind of work Americans “just won’t do,” like cleaning up Master
Crawford’s vomit. The Crawfords are most definitely one percenters—and writer-director
Michael Walker will never let us forget it in the dark morality play-borderline-thriller
The Maid’s Room (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
seems pretty, hard working, and illegal enough not to complain. That is good
enough for the Crawfords to hire her as the live-in maid at their Hamptons
house. They will only be there over the weekends, but their entitled son
Brandon will spend the entire summer there. Of course, he notices Drina, but he
is mostly too busy drinking like a fish to do anything horrifically
inappropriate. Unfortunately, one drunken mistake will kill his buzz and put
Drina in an increasingly awkward position.
in case you did not get it, the Crawfords think the rules do not apply to them
because of their wealth, whereas the naïve Drina believes everyone is
accountable in the eyes of God and the law. Subtle Maid’s Room is not. Still, the first major dark turn is a bit of a
surprise, because the film seemed to be conditioning the audience to go in a
Maid’s Room’s greatest inequity is
the disparity between characters. Frankly, Drina is sweet but boring. Granted,
Brandon Crawford, the sort of Raskolnikov, does not have much more going on
either. However, Mr. Crawford is a forceful, surprisingly complicated
character, who dominates the film in every sense. Even with the deck completely
stacked against him, Bill Camp elevates his performance to classically tragic
contrast, Paula Garcés is unflaggingly earnest as Drina, but mostly she just
bites her lip and furrows her brow as she wrestles with her employer’s moral
bankruptcy. Annabella Sciorra is also fairly potent as Mrs. Crawford, but the
uptight mom routine feels pretty familiar by now.
Crawford home certainly looks exclusive, but some of the film’s details are a
little ridiculous, like the Erin
Brockovich movie poster Drina hangs in her titular quarters. Seriously, a
Colombian immigrant in her early twenties would choose the 2000 Soderbergh film
to brighten her walls? It is almost laughable when Walker uses it as a device
to strengthen her resolve, as if asking WWEBD, what would Erin Brockovich do?
are several nicely staged sequences in the second act that demonstrate how one mistake
inevitably begets another. Unfortunately, the film is overly-preoccupied with
its intended take-aways at the expense of narrative. As a result, the promising
moments are smothered by its class consciousness. A misfire despite Camp’s
highlight reel work, The Maid’s House opens
this Friday (8/8) in New York at the Cinema Village.