The Chambermaid

Spanish version of film poster (source)

Spanish version of film poster [source link dead]

Lynn (Vicky Krieps) is the housekeeper every person who has ever stayed at a hotel wants—she is meticulous. She even cleans rooms no one has stayed in.

Prior to the action of the film, Lynn voluntarily spent some time in a mental hospital, though we don’t find out why.

(This film leaves many questions unanswered. If you’re uncomfortable with uncertainty… you probably want to avoid most European cinema, but you definitely want to steer clear of this one.

I don’t mind uncertainty. Life is uncertain and there are loose ends just all over the place.)

So Lynn the chambermaid cleans rooms and we get to watch her. I enjoy cleaning porn—watching women properly clean things—Sister, My Sister has lots of this, as well—so that was great.

But our painfully shy Lynn doesn’t know how to interact with other people, so she spies on their lives by looking at the things in their rooms. She reads a bit of the books they’re reading, smells the various things they use on their bodies, tries on their clothing, etc.

Then she takes to hiding under the bed and witnessing what humans are like when they think they are alone or only with one other person like a spouse.

Or a dominatrix.

For one evening she is under a bed during an encounter between a man and a dominatrix named Chiara (Lena Lauzemis). Lynn is fascinated by what she hears. The woman leaves her card on the bedside table and Lynn copies the number while the man is showering.

Lynn calls the number and makes and appointment and Chiara comes to Lynn’s very tidy flat. After a bit of talking there’s some rough play before sex. Quite realistic sex, as well.

(The more intimate scenes between the two women felt unscripted, which was nice. There was one later where Lynn was lying on her stomach and she asked Chiara to lie on her back. That felt true to me—like she wanted to be crushed a little. Perhaps I’m projecting.)

But of course the shy chambermaid can’t meet the dominatrix and live happily ever after. She has to get jealous of the dominatrix’s clients—or one specific one, at least. And she has to get clingy. Sigh. I never get anything I want.

Look at how pristine that bed is. LOOK AT IT. (source)

Look at how pristine that bed is. LOOK AT IT. (source)

Released in most non-English speaking countries as The Chambermaid Lynn (except in whatever language that country speaks), this film is based on a novel (Das Dimmermadchen by Markus Orths) and I want to read it with a mighty hunger. Alas, it has not been translated into English and I have no German.

Like The Piano Teacher it is a film of long silences. Director Ingo Haeb (who also wrote the screenplay) allows Krieps to go about her quiet life in no hurry and with no voice over to spell out her thoughts.

It’s beautifully shot—scenes were framed wonderfully. Cinematography was by Sophie Maintigneux and well done to her. It was just lovely to look at.

Though this film is about the relationship between a dominatrix and a pathologically shy voyeur of a chambermaid, there isn’t much kink or sex on screen. It was still an excellent character study. I had no idea where the plot was going.

I’ll probably end up buying it because it’s definitely something I’d watch again. The Chambermaid currently available on Netflix in the U.S.


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