A mother and daughter reunited, a clear class and status divide with a side of uncomfortable attention, its Brazil and the swimming pool looks so inviting.
Val is a live in housemaid for a wealthy family in São Paulo. Since leaving her daughter, Jessica, to provide a better life for her, she harbours anger towards her for leaving. In turn, Val has a close bond with the family's son, Fabinho. Years later, Jessica comes to São Paulo to take an entry exam for a prestigious university in the hopes she can study architecture. She asks to stay with Val is excited to see her daughter after all these years but there is tension at first as Jessica can't understand how her mother is treated by the family she works for, in particular, Dona Barbara who dislikes Jessica and her obvious disregard for the unspoken divide between them.
This could be taken as a stright foward look at class divides and oh my does this story hammer these points home. Jessica acts slightly arrogant when she arrives and can't understand how her mother stands for it, but at the same time she doesn't seem to care about the fact her mother left to provide money for her to have a better life than she would have if she stayed. Val also seems to hold too much misguided respect for the family. She seems to have embraced Fabinho's need for comfort and affection from a young age, replacing her daughter in a way that is painfully obvious to Jessica and Dona Barbara. Although the latter doesn't make an effort to change anything. Despite Jessica's obvious anger towards Val's behaviour and status, she has a point, even if Val is the employee, one second they treat her like a friend the next like a forgotten tool. Jessica is also treated unfairly and creepily leered after by Don Carlos. Jessica thinks he is being kind, showing her the city as they share an interest in art but when he kisses her, she realises that shes still not being treated equally. This side plot is uncomfortable, a friendship with Fabinho would have been more interesting seeing as he regards Val as his 'second mother' and Jessica is only just getting used to being around her again.
The test to see whether Val and Jessica are really going to be happy being a family again is when Val suggests they have coffee in their new flat and gets out a cool looking coffee cup and saucer set with a thermos. Val is pleased by the simple set and Jessica complements it too. This is the same set that Val gave to Dona Barbara at the start of the film as a present that she thanks her for but quickly suggests that they put it away for a 'special occasion'. What's more special that starting over again with your daughter?
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