This brilliant, beautifully observed comedy is a joy to watch throughout. The Second Mother's narrative works on so many levels, reflected in the film's ambiguous title, and the characterisation is flawless.
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As we switch sympathies from scene to scene, Muylaert forces us to think big about the clash between idealism and acceptance, a philosophical war that spills beyond the walls of this small story into every corner of our own lives.
The Second Mother goes soft toward the end, defusing its conflicts too easily and inconsequentially.
Muylaert does a deft job here of plotting her story and setting up her characters and their predicaments in ways that immediately invite reflection.
Character relations are hinted at and even primed for confrontation, but without payoff or meaningful conclusion.
Touching, funny, perceptive and simple enough to carry large audiences, The Second Mother is carried throughout by a hilarious, intelligent and soulful performance from veteran Brazilian actress, comedian and TV host Regina Case, surrounded by a solid supporting cast.
Brazilian director Anna Muylaert’s deft, funny film is set in São Paulo, but the class distinctions shown have no borders.
The script is executed with enough naturalism to ward off complaints of contrivance — all the way up to a tidy, but quite satisfying, denouement.
Ms. Muylaert’s guiding principle seems to have been fearlessness, and her film, which was shot by Barbara Alvarez, is superb on all counts.
There’s a rah-rah element to The Second Mother that undermines its sociological ambition.