Sometimes it’s the simple stories that pack the most emotional punch and sit with you long after the film has finished.
Behind the facade of a beautiful urban home, a combination of complacency and bad investments has left power couple Ben and Gail (Patrick McKenna and Claire Lautier) disconnected from their lives, resentful towards one another and pretty much flat broke. When the cash-strapped yuppies fire their teen-aged daughter’s lesbian Mexican nanny, Margarita (Nicola Correia Damude), they set off a chain of events that lead to her deportation.
From the writing/directing team of Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert, Margarita works as an unconventional family drama, not hitting the viewer in the face with any sort of agenda and focusing on telling a story that could easily take place in a number of households across the country. It’s a sweet and emotionally accessible story that is easy to latch on to, despite it taking a little too long to get to the main crisis of the film. The family and economic issues play out in a realistic fashion as they realize how they’ve ultimately been treating this person who has become a member of their family. The film truly does a solid job at highlighting the nature of the traditional family mold, which slowly, but surely doesn’t exist any longer and has been traded in for something a little more non-traditional, but much more stable and loving. Despite having some aspects of the film get laid on a little thicker than they needed to be, Cardona and Colbert tell a very solid story thanks mostly to a wonderful performance from an up an coming lead actress.
Naming your lead character after a cocktail is never a great start, but Nicola Correia Damude overcomes that with a warm and understated performance of a young woman who moved to Canada out of necessity to make money and became a nanny and as she took care of her surrogate family, she ultimately found herself in the process. Very much a film about discovering yourself, or more so about the need to discover yourself and stick to the ideals and principles that just make you happy, pushing past any of those small differences and disagreements that we all have in our lives.
Patrick McKenna and Claire Lautier worked well as the bickering couple who needed to regain a little balance in their lives in order to find their happiness and also managed to keep a real sense of comedic timing in the film, capturing that reality of being a family as moments are deathly serious one minute, and downright hilarious the next. Maya Ritter laid it on a little too thick at times as the emotionally unstable teen, and Christine Horne just didn’t get enough screen time as Margarita’s love interest Jane. Issues of sexual orientation and the relationship were glossed over, rightly so, but it could have helped to flesh out the characters to see more of a struggle inside that dynamic and give Margarita’s emotional struggles more context.
Ultimately, Margarita, while not without its flaws, is more than worth a look as a sweet little family drama, showing that things like family and love are all around us and recognizing it isn’t always the easiest thing in the world.
Cast: Patrick McKenna, Claire Lautier, Nicola Correia Damude
Directed by: Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert