Strange is an understatement when describing Danni Ugali’s The Maid in London.
The film exhaustingly tells the story of Margo (Andi Eigenmann), from when she was still a single lass working as a market vendor and being randomly asked by her mother why she still has no boyfriend to when she is all smiles with her husband (Matt Evans) and kids while cutting the ribbon of their brand new superstore.
What happens in between her humble beginning and her fairly jubilant fairy tale ending is an indulgent series of very unfortunate events.
She gets disrespected by drunkards on her way home from work, only to be rescued by a tricycle driver who becomes her boyfriend, who one drunken night, rapes her and forces her to marry him.
She casually forgets the grim origins of her sordid married life and proceeds to suffer through her husband being cheated of money by an illegal recruiter, her husband murdering that recruiter and being sent to jail, her daughter falling ill with hospital and medicine bills piling forcing her to commit acts of infidelity with a former lover (Polo Ravales).
She grabs an opportunity to work in London as a maid for hotels and private homes but still has to go through the stress of sudden inspections by immigrations officers.
The film is dull and excruciating. Its lighter moments and attempts at injecting its sorrowful scenes with humor are ponderous and pointless, only adding more torturous and needless minutes to the already gratingly overlong film.
The Maid in London is also recklessly unsophisticated, which leads to consequences that are much graver than it being a test in patience and endurance.
Ugali and his cohorts only go through the motion of telling the story as it happens. It fails to communicate any of the profound emotions that could have added essential insight on Margo’s plight and string of misfortunes. In essence, the film’s protagonist becomes a punching bag of cruel fate, with the filmmakers disinterested in her as a human being. It is almost as if the film is an unsavory ode to Filipino female subservience.
The film sorely lacks anger or frustration.
It is satisfied with sobs when it should be fuming from all the injustices and crimes it so casually presents. It has none of the compulsions to bring to the fore any substantial discourse regarding the very real plights it launches its inane melodrama from.
Supposedly based on real life and an adaptation of a book, The Maid in London is molded like an overwrought soap opera. It thrives in tragedy and woe, hoping that the joy-ridden pay-off in the end is enough to exculpate it from carving entertainment out of a whirlpool of misery.
In fact, the unrealistic happy ending actually only makes it worse.
It seems to make a point that only fate or an unexpected boon from a heinous act committed many years ago is the only escape out of Margo’s hellhole. The film can actually be read to dangerously celebrate abuse.
The Maid in London is just a sorely misguided film.
It offers very little pleasure. It bleeds all the wrong messages. It is best forgotten. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.
Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema