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Friday, December 2, 2016

The Maids (1975)

Two housemaids, Solange (Glenda Jackson) and Claire (Susannah York) who are also sisters, engage in ritual playacting games in which they take turns being the servant and the mistress when their mistress (Vivien Merchant) is away. Based on the acclaimed 1947 play by Jean Genet and directed by Christopher Miles (VIRGIN AND THE GYPSY). Prior to the filming, Genet's play was performed by the same cast in 1973 and Miles uses Genet's text as the screenplay in what is essentially a filmed play. However, Miles does add some cinematic flourishes to show what is going outside the bedroom (where the play takes place) but no dialog has been added. Genet's play is a compelling piece which examines (among other things) power between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and how even when "kindness" is displayed by the ruling class toward the working class it forms a resentment because it is given as a gift rather than as a right. Jackson is marvelous especially in her monologue at the very end but York, whose talent often remained in the shadow of her beauty, matches her every step of the way. Merchant vividly brings "Madame" to life however briefly. With Mark Burns as Monsieur. 

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