Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert’s Margarita is the latest lesbian film to grace LGBT cinema, a beautiful story of contrast between a troubled Canadian power couple and their strong (psychologically and physically) Mexican nanny.
Ben (Patrick McKenna) and Gail (Claire Lautier) have lost the liberal heterogeneous vibe of their youth and have unwittingly sunk into middleclass conservative culture – obsessed and ruined by money. Their lavish lifestyle (a large house complete with hot tub, poor investments and yoga classes) along with their desire to do best by their fourteen year old daughter, Mali (Maya Ritter) have left the couple in financial crisis.
Determined to cut back on expenses in a way that won’t immediately impact on the way in which they live – they don’t want to move house (the postcode has gotten their daughter into the best high school in the city) and neither are willing to compromise regarding their jobs, their attention turns to their nanny, Margarita (Nicola Correia Damude).
Margarita, a gorgeous “Latina Goddess” is open lesbian and has worked for the couple for six years and is considered a member of the family, what the they don’t realise however is that not only do they rely on Margarita for the wellbeing of their daughter, but in fact that they rely on her for everything from fixing the guttering to draining the hot tub. They also don’t realise that she is an illegal immigrant working for them on illegal terms.
As Margarita’s relationship with local law student, Jane (Christine Horne) is put under strain, Gail and Ben break the news to the Latina of their decision to terminate her nanny contract. During her determined search for work elsewhere, Margarita gets into a minor accident.
At the hospital though the truth of her immigration status comes out, and although she is released from hospital (suffering only a mild concussion and sprain) and police custody it is under the condition that after a few days bed rest the family send her back to Mexico.
Heart broken, Gail and Ben discover while Margarita is on bed rest just how much they love and rely on her as they struggle to make their morning smoothies and do the laundry. This results in the both of them offering themselves up as prospective marriage candidates (the two of them had not married, dissenting capitalist heteronormative ideals), however Margarita is resolute in her decision that she will only marry for love.
This tender feature focuses on themes of difference – in status and ethnicity more so than sexuality – which makes it enjoyably refreshing, and of dependence, in that no matter how strong we are – at work or within ourselves, sometimes there are external forces that we can do nothing about, making it necessary to rely on other people, and that’s ok. Themes of disillusionment and resent – Gail and Ben come to the realisation that the life they live, that was sold to them by the corporate American dream is in fact not half as fulfilling as they had thought, on top of this realisation they also realise that their daughter, Mali has come to resent them for powering after such phony ideals.
The performances from Nicola Correria Damude and Maya Ritter portrayed a particularly heart-warming friendship between the two alienated girls, with Mali’s intimacy with Margarita not suggestive nor uncomfortable on account of the latter’s sexuality, but rather deeply familial and reliant as a pupil is on their teacher. Adding scenes of comic relief throughout were Patrick McKenna and Gail Claire Lautier, whose portrayal of the stereotypical power couple makes it humorously unnerving to acknowledge that indeed there are adults in the world who live and act like that.
The soundtrack, provided by Germaine Franco is wonderfully suited to Margarita and fills it with a Latin-come-European vibe, contrastingly nicely with the snowy Canadian landscapes.
Winner of three audience awards (Créteil International Women Film Festival, France, Inside Out Toronto, High Falls Film Festival, Rochester, USA) it’s not hard to understand why, a must to watch for everyone out there who enjoys light hearted films with undertones of more deeper and important messages.