Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hot Docs 2013 Film Review - The Women and the Passenger

Four chambermaids tell their personal stories of love, marriage, relationships and life in The Women and the Passenger. They work at El Passjero a motel that rents rooms by the hour and refer to the ever changing guests as passengers.  Housekeeping is always busy at motel El Passjero as check out time is more frequent than the 12-noon departure time one would expect at a normal hotel. The women also encounter different refuse to what is usually left in the standard hotel room. Each employee tells her story in a straight forward manner that is free of titillation or judgment of the guests that come to the hotel.

The film follows the women through their work day. Elisabeth recounts her split with her husband as she explores the various positions of the sex chair in the room that she's cleaning. Carina discusses the fact that her husband is younger than her and he was the popular kid in the neighbourhood when they met.  Maria's been married for 33 years and seems to have the most stable relationship amongst the four. Patricia divulges that she is self conscious when she has sex with her husband because her kids sleep in the room next door.

Directors Patricia Correa and Valentina Mac-Pherson use several appealing shooting techniques in the film.  The opening sequence of the women entering the change room to don their uniforms for the day is a long take without sound and extreme close ups on the women, their faces, their lockers, their uniforms and varying body parts.  The shots where the women encounter hotel guest to bring them room service or other items is shot at a low angle from the far length of the hallway. We hear the conversations but never see any of the guests. Naturally there is also the regular sound of sexual activity emanating throughout the hotel.

The women give glimpses into their lives as they move throughout the hotel during the day.  The interviews are conducted in the hotel rooms often with the subject lying on the bed or as in one memorable scene Elizabeth rolls around on a water bed as she recounts her reunion with her husband.

The women clean mirrors, change the sheets, fluff pillows, find the odd left behind trinket and clean up illicit substances in the rooms. The hotel is rich with colour which enhances the presentation. There is no shortage of neon at El Passjero especially red, green, purple and pink.

Women and the Passenger is an unconventional drama that answers a question that many people have when visiting a dodgy establishment.  I wonder whose job it is to clean up this place?  This Documentary is not for everyone but it's well done and deals with the subject matter without sensationalizing.

** 1/2 out of 4.

The Women and the Passenger | Patricia Correra /Valentina Mac-Pherson | Chile | 45 Minutes.

2013 Hot Docs Film Festival.

Tags: Love, Marriage, Relationships, Chile, Motel, Rent by the Hour, Blue Collar.

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