- English subtitles
In the beautifully filmed At Home, housekeeper Nadja is fired after years of loyal service when she turns out to be ill.
For years, Georgian Nadja has been living with the Greek family she’s a housekeeper for. She has become part of the family: Nadja was running the household even before their now twelve-year-old daughter Iris was born. When she has problems with her balance, her boss decides to have her examined by a friend of his who’s a doctor. The result is worrying; Nadja suffers from a degenerative disease and her health will only deteriorate in the future. Nadja decides to not tell her employers, but the doctor informs them anyway. Even though the wife is concerned about Nadja’s fate and tries to convince her husband to keep her on, he is unrelenting: he doesn’t want an sick person in his home and Nadja is dismissed. Without a home, a job or health insurance, Nadja moves in with her boyfriend. Even though she felt like a member of the family, they now appear to care just as little about her as they did about the horse the father forced daughter Iris to get rid of.
Director Athanasios Karanikolas only uses dialogue where needed and lets the facial expressions and actions of his actors speak for themselves. This makes an already very strong performance by lead actress Maria Kallimani stand out even more: her dismay, her helplessness and the dignity she tries to cling to are palpable. Nadja is almost a martyr in the acceptance of her fate. At times you wonder when she will finally stand up to her employer’s nastiness; when her boyfriend encourages her to sue him, Nadja is not interested.
At Home is distinctive in its mise en scene: the film is mainly set in a minimalist Greek villa with stunning sea views, and in the rugged Greek countryside with grim little country lanes. The characters constantly wear the same plain clothes, and there is little joy to be found. The sober style of the film makes the central question hit extra hard: how responsible are we for the lives of others?
Marloes den Hoed
Translation: Marjan Westbroek