Margarita (Nicola Correia Damude) is a super nanny, literally. She cooks 3 meals a day, from scratch with fresh ingredients she selects herself. She scrubs toilets, fixes gutters and cleans hot tubes in a single bound. There are fringe benefits to being a live-in nanny to a family of three: a private room in the basement and use of the hot tube for the occasional nannies’ shindig. And for her services rendered as nanny (and cook and maid and tutor and grocer and gardener and handywoman) she had calculated that it shakes out to about a dollar a day, for the past six years. Her girlfriend Jane (Christine Horne) is a closeted law student who is afraid of commitment, but for the moment, Margarita is willing to wait until she is ready. The whole life Margarita has made for herself in Canada is about to change.
Margarita’s employers, Ben (Patrick McKenna) & Gail (Claire Lautier), two over-worked, idealistic doctors suddenly find themselves in dire financial straits. After talking through every plausible option, the couple decides they can no longer afford Margarita. Thus begins the discovery of exactly how much Margarita actually does for the family that falls well outside her job description as a nanny.
When teen-aged daughter Mali (Maya Ritter) finds out, she is violently opposed to Margarita leaving. But what the family does not know is that Margarita is an illegal without papers; so she can’t even find a new job much less go to school. Alas, Margarita’s eventual deportment is eminent.
Margarita is very much a homage to the wholesomeness of family – beyond blood relations. It explores the ways in which we become family beyond blood ties as well as the thing that create a sense of home – not just geography.
Leading lady Nicola Correia Damude is wonderful. Damude imbues Margarita with a sensitivity that is deeply endearing and the profound signature strength that comes from women of character and perseverance. Every performance and character in this complicated story of loyalty versus law is rich and well executed. Truly brilliant casting a t work in this film.
Congratulations to writer/directors Dominique Cardona & Laurie Colbert for this perfectly balanced dramedy. Kudos also to composer Germaine Franco for a score that is fresh and playfully ethnic without being cliché.
Margarita is an official selection of Outfest: The 30th Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, happening July 12-22, 2012 in downtown los Angeles and in select theaters across Los Angeles and Hollywood.