Maid in Manhattan

Maid in Manhattan is a feel-good boy-meets-girl Cinderella story involving a poor maid and a rich candidate for Congress.

Marisa Ventura (Jennifer Lopez) is the maid in question: a single mum with young son. Chris Marshall (Ralph Fiennes) is the playboy would-be senator who's not sure what he really wants. A comedy of errors occurs when Chris mistakes Marisa for a guest at the upscale hotel that she works at (and Marisa doesn't do anything to disabuse Chris of that notion). Chris and Marisa have some good times together, but there is some heartbreak when the truth is finally revealed.

For the most part, the film avoids touching upon any serious issues, except for the time when Marisa's mother confronts her after Marisa's subterfuge is revealed. The scene is quite interesting since Marisa is trying hard to get out of her rut, whereas her mother feels strongly about class separation and the intermingling of classes. This illustrates fundamentally the problem faced by a minority class that is somehow considered "worse off" -- the feeling becomes self-perpetuating and it is hard to get out of the rut. (It also illustrates the utility of affirmative action though I do not believe in a government-enforced quota system.)

In making this point, the film also illustrates another one, which is that relationships (of any kind) between the pseudoclasses created by society can result in a richer world for all people (though I can't condone the ambition of becoming a "manager"). In my view, relationships between people without material possessions who are forced to give up their dreams just so they can survive and people who have the luxury of living their dreams is a means to a more egalitarian world. Not that this should be forced or anything, but all too often people are unwilling or insecure to make the effort necessary to bridge the gap. In the film, both Marisa and Chris are enriched by their relationship -- Chris gets to experience a side of world he's ever seen and hopefully will help him grow; Marisa may overcome the day-to-day survival routine and hopefully focus on the more important aspects of her life and personality.

Movies of this kind, where two people from very diverse segments of society are paired, are appealing in a romantic manner. Maid in Manhattan is mostly light fare, and particularly good for couples. Worth a rental.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala ||