Synopsis: A bold coming-of-rage story. Joy is an undocumented Filipina immigrant who is struggling to do the best she can for her daughter when she secures the perfect job; taking care of an extremely wealthy but terminal old man. The new position pays well and guarantees a roof over their heads but very soon, Joy and her daughter Grace start to realize everything is not as it seems. Something is festering beneath the surface, threatening all they have worked for.
I was wonderfully surprised how I was entertained, scared, educated and thrilled watching this film about the plight of the Undocumented Filipina Domestic Helper Joy (Filipina Actress Max Eigenmann). She is shown doing her mundane tasks of cleaning houses for different families. She is shown talking to a fixer who might help her get her papers for 15K Pounds. She is shown her relationship with her British born daughter Grace (Jaeden Paige Boadilla), who is as ragingly mischievous. A love hate relationship which you will see how they banter with each other because of the naughty tricks Grace would do to her Mom who always is jolted and surprised.
Is it a normal Mom and Daughter relationship which I have seen in person from family members and now my friends who have children. The bickering, the arguing, the not listening to each other… Amidst all of this they are homeless. Their plight seems hopeless. Grace is seen not complaining about their situation and plays practical jokes on her Mom. I guess to lighten up the situation or just being ragingly naively naughty. Her mother does not appreciate.
There is clearly a lack of communication or shall I say communication gap, or shall I say generation gap. Mind you its a cause of friction but it is the basis of the whole theme of the movie. I laugh at their banter sometimes the oh familiar Mother Daughter bickering but I know there is trouble looming in this Thriller of a movie.
As usual Joy wonderfully played by Award Winning Filipina Actress Max Eigenman (“12 Weeks,” “Verdict“) was mesmerizing ! I enjoy her natural take on the sad plight of the lost Undocumented Housekeeper, Caretaker who was shown in a scene that was a Nurse in the Philippines. Max’s take of the role is not seen in most actresses she is surely becomes the role. She inhabits it and you forget that she is this glamorous award winning actress from the Philippines who belongs to a family of Award Winning Actors and Actresses.
She has carved her own niche in the International Acting field and is always selected to play important roles like this. Max’s asset is her eyes much like Filipina Award Winning actress Nora Aunor who is known to effectively communicate in movies with her eyes. You would actually see what Max is feeling with just a focus on her eyes. A true sign of a good actress. I definitely enjoy her in most scenes especailly when we take a clue on where the story is going. The intonation changes, She shows us the ups and downs fo her character, from depressed to hopeful, from being patient to being fed up, from confident to being frightened.
My favorite of her lines was ” You think you help us, but no we have helped you more !” Bam ! That delivery alone deserves her a Best Actress Award ! I was brought to a rollercoaster ride with her performance with all the different character she effectively performed with. I empathized with her character as I know a lot of our Undocumented workers whereever they are in the world – they work are taken advantage of probably experiencing horrific experiences literally and figuratively like Max in this movie.
Kudos to Grace played by British Filipina Child actress Jaeden Paige Boadilla. My oh my if I may say that was a very challenging role from being doing naughty practical jokes, (the cause of surprises enought to jolt you sometimes), to being in action scenes to some of the heavy Mother Daughter scenes. Oh I forgot, she also sang a duet with Max, a a Visayan folk song called ” Dandansoy. ” This child star will go places and because she acted in this historic movie that would put this British Filipino film in the map she is destined for greatness !
Let’s not forget Leanne Best who played Katherine. She looks the part, she sounds the part. I knew she was going to be villain but I watched her as she evolved into that. She has a very aristocratic air to her. She was not mean, she was not disrespectful but eventually you will see… She had serious but funny scenes with the Mother and Daughter. The blocking and editing where oh so effective. That is also Kudos to the Director and Editor (Christopher CF Chow.). Kudos too to the great Cinematography work of Joel Honeywell and team. Some of the scenes looked like paintings. Especially in the hallucination scenes. Very eerie, very horrific !
David Hayman who played Master Garret, is a sight to behold. Of course half of the time he was in a coma state in the movie, his few scenes in the movie was so effective that each line he says reveals about him – the plot of the story. He scared the heck out of me. His rendition of the character gradually evolved from a friendly descent gentleman to a full pledged creep.
I would like to say thank you to all the characters, the crew and most especially to Mr Paris Jarzilla who not only won several awards at SXSW Film Festival, but also for putting this British Filipino Film in the map ! You have proven my statement that the “Asian Wave is On” correct and now even as it crosses the Atlantic Ocean to the British Isles.
Great storytelling ! Great filmmaking ! Great entertainment ! May this film become the next “Bend It Like Beckham” where everybody in that film became a Superstar ! Kudos ! Cheers ! Congratulations !