Margarita, starring Nicola Correia Damude as the Mexican nanny Margarita, is the Canadian version of A Day Without a Mexican. In the same way that all of California comes to a screeching halt without Mexicans doing the actual business of making life work in A Day Without a Mexican, so Margarita makes life work for everyone around her. Only when she’s threatened with deportation, do the people around her notice how valuable she is.
I wrote and published this in 2014. See the end for my thoughts on it after a recent rewatch.
Let me back up a bit. Margarita is the live-in nanny/housekeeper/Ms. Fixit for 14 year-old Mali (Maya Ritter) and her sorry-excuses-for parents, played by Patrick McKenna and Claire Lautier. She’s been working for the family for 6 years. She’s a lesbian whose girlfriend (Christine Horne) doesn’t want to get married. None of these people know Margarita’s in Canada illegally.
Margarita’s friend Carlos (Marco Grazzini) knows about her status. He’s also in love with her. That’s not working out too well for him.
Margarita is the stand-in mother to Mali and does literally everything that gets done in the house. The two parents, both doctors, are self-absorbed and fairly useless. Then they run out of money. The car gets repossessed. They have to sell the house. And they have to fire Margarita.
Figuring out how to live without Margarita is an eye-opener for everyone. Everyone loves her. Carlos loves her. Mali loves her. The two parents (who are not actually married) love her. Her girlfriend Jane loves her. Many of those people are willing to marry her to keep her from being deported. Well, except there’s that little commitment problem with Jane.
The film won some awards from gay and lesbian festivals, but I don’t think it’s a genre film. It is about a lesbian character but it isn’t a lesbian film. Yes, as Pennsatucky from Orange is the New Black would say, there is lesbianing going on. But as Cosima from Orphan Black would say, Margarita’s sexuality isn’t the most important thing about her. In other words, it’s a universal feel-good story that I think most people would enjoy.
Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert share the directing credits for Margarita.
Check out the trailer.
Additional thoughts on watching Margarita six years later
I watched this film again the other night. My reaction to it after 6 years of reviewing and thinking about films is different. All the class difference and immigration conflict is still there. In fact the immigration issue is even more relevant now.
The collective memory of A Day Without a Mexican is long gone. Now, people are suddenly aware that most of the people in “essential” jobs during the COVID pandemic are people of color.
What I didn’t comprehend fully in 2014 when I first wrote this, was how rare and beautiful a lesbian romcom with a happy ending is. This is a charming, funny, excellent, lesbian romcom.
I know now that Wolfe Video, the studio behind the film, has created many such films with happy endings. Did I know that in 2014?
It was about a year later when I first heard of the kill-the-lesbian trope. It was a revelation to me to realize that not many LGBTQ love stories had happy endings on our screens.
I’ve learned a lot from stretching what I watch and from paying constant attention to news and information about films and TV. I’ve learned a lot about representation, I’ve seen many more things directed by women. I’ve become an advocate for women directors, LGBTQ representation, and representation for women of color. It isn’t what I thought would happen when I began this blog, but writing it has made me a better person.
Plus, Margarita is a beautiful movie. You can find it on Prime Video and at the Wolfe link above.