Regina Casé and Camila Márdila star as mother and daughter in the Brazilian film The Second Mother.

Regina Casé and Camila Márdila star as mother and daughter in the Brazilian film The Second Mother.

Age, class divide Brazilian family

Vernon Film Society screens The Second Mother, about a mother and daughter caught up a clash of the classes in Brazil.

On Monday, The Vernon Film Society is showing the Brazilian film The Second Mother, the story of a middle-aged, live-in housekeeper for a wealthy family in São Paulo, Brazil.

Val (Regina Casé) has lovingly raised the family’s now teenage son since he was a toddler, while sending money back home to a small town in northern Brazil where her estranged daughter, Jéssica (Camila Márdila), is being raised by relatives.

The balance of this relationship is thrown into chaos when Jéssica comes to São Paulo to write her college entrance exams, marking the first time she and her mother have seen each other in more than 10 years.

Val makes arrangements for Jéssica to sleep on a mattress in the maid’s quarters of the house, but the young woman instead accepts an offer to stay in the guest room – an offer that was designed to be politely refused.

The unspoken class barriers in the household quickly come to the foreground as Jéssica crashes through them with her candour and unflinching confidence.

She speaks her mind, raids the boss’ refrigerator, and even takes a dip in the pool. The lady of the house is horrified and immediately has the pool drained.

Val initially is mortified that her daughter doesn’t know her place, but soon comes around to reconsidering her own place in the family.

A rich and delightful comic drama, The Second Mother underscores the importance of embracing your own inherent sense of self-worth.

“All the elements of the story fit impeccably together for a humorous and occasionally wrenching examination of relationships,” writes Stephanie Merry in The Washington Post.

The Second Mother screens Monday, Feb. 15 at the Vernon Towne Cinema at the regular times of 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. The film is in Portuguese, with English subtitles. Tickets are $7 (cash only) available one week ahead at the Towne box office and the Bean Scene.