The Second Mother
Theatrical release poster
PortugueseQue Horas Ela Volta?
Directed byAnna Muylaert
Written byAnna Muylaert
Produced by
  • Caio Gullane
  • Fabiano Gullane
  • Debora Ivanov
  • Anna Muylaert
CinematographyBárbara Alvarez
Edited byKaren Harley
Music by
  • Fábio Trummer
  • Vitor Araújo
Distributed byPandora Filmes
Release dates
  • 25 January 2015 (2015-01-25) (Sundance)
  • 27 August 2015 (2015-08-27) (Brazil)
Running time
112 minutes[1]
BudgetR$4 million[2]
Box office$3 million[3]

The Second Mother (Portuguese: Que Horas Ela Volta?, lit.'When Is She Coming Back?') is a 2015 Brazilian drama film written and directed by Anna Muylaert. The film stars Regina Casé as Val, the housemaid of a wealthy family in São Paulo, and portrays the tensions that arise after her daughter Jéssica moves into the family's house in order to apply for an admission exam at the University of São Paulo.

The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was later released theatrically in Brazil on 27 August 2015. It received critical praise in and outside Brazil and was selected as the Brazilian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards but it was not nominated.[4][5][6]


Val, a woman from Pernambuco, moves to São Paulo to provide a better life for her daughter, Jéssica. Val leaves her daughter with a caretaker while she moves to a different city. In São Paulo, Val works as a live-in housemaid for an affluent family where she also takes care of the family's only child, Fabinho. Though Fabinho and Val have a close relationship it comes at the expense of her relationship with her daughter who continues to live in Pernambuco and harbours anger towards her mother for always being away. Fabinho and Val's relationship is so close that it seems as if he is her own son.

When Jessica is nearing eighteen Val receives a call from her asking if she can stay with her briefly while she studies and takes the entrance exam to the University of São Paulo. Val is extremely shocked that she received this call from her daughter. Val is very surprised because she has not spoken to her daughter in years. Val, who lives in the house with the family she cleans for, asks them for permission to let Jessica stay while she searches for an apartment for the two of them. Dona Barbara, the head of the house, grants her permission. Dona Barbara is hopeful that Jessica will not stay at her home for too long.

When Val goes to pick up Jessica from the airport there is immediate tension as Val hasn't seen Jessica in ten years and fails to recognize her daughter. Jessica also wants to go straight to Val's home without seeing her employers, and is shocked when she realizes that Val lives with her employers and expects her to stay in a cramped room with them. She refuses to stay in Val's cramped and small room when there is a guest room in the house.

When Jessica arrives, there is awkwardness and slowly developed tension as her presence begins to challenge the social class boundaries present in the home. First, when Jessica implies that she should stay in the guest room since she is a guest, then again when eating with Don Carlos at the same table partaking in their food. Val grows frustrated with her daughter and her obliviousness to the rules of the house while Jessica, upset at the way that her mother is treated, continues to defy these rules. Jessica will not understand why she must obey the social class boundaries. She continues to tell Val that they are all equal and there should be no social class boundaries. Secondly, the awkwardness continues when Don Carlos continues to get close to Jessica. Unlike his wife, Don Carlos does not have any issue with Jessica staying with them. He is the one that insists that she stay in the guest room, instead of the cramped servants room that Val lives in. It is heavily implied throughout the movie that Don Carlos has romantic feelings for Jessica. When she reveals that she has an interest in architecture, Don Carlos offers to take her to the Edifício Copan. While they stand there looking out over São Paulo, Don Carlos tries to kiss Jessica. She rejects his advances and the awkwardness is only broken by a call from his wife, Dona Barbara, who is in the hospital following an accident. Later that same night Don Carlos finds Jessica alone in the kitchen. He gets down on one knee and abruptly proposes to her. In showing his own views about class, when she initially refuses his proposal he replies with promises of gifts and exotic vacations. When it appears that Jessica will not consent to his proposal, he tries to make the entire ordeal seem like a joke. Jessica goes along with it, but after her rejection, he also seems less content with her presence in the house.

The last straw of the situation happens when Jessica is found in the pool playing with Fabinho and his friend. The wife is enraged and orders Val to control her daughter and make sure that she doesn’t enter the other side of the kitchen door. Furious when she hears of this and upset that her mother did not defend her honor, Jessica leaves and gets an apartment for herself. Later, Fabinho learns that he did not pass the test to get into the university of his choice, the same one that Jessica tested for but got accepted to. Dona Barbara is jealous that Val's daughter passed the exam while her son did not. She tells her son that he must study harder for the next year. After such news, he decides to take six months off and spend it in Australia. Dona Barbara cannot bear the fact that her son has a closer relationship with Val than with her since she is his own mother. Val, sad that he is going away, decides to quit her job and be with her daughter, not wanting to remain in the household with the parents. When Dona Barbara asks Val why she cannot stay, Val informs her that she wants to care for her child. Despite Dona Barbara and Jessica's issues, Dona Barbara indicates to Val that she understands the need Val feels to be there for her child. As a final act of rebellion before rejoining her daughter, Val enters the swimming pool that has been off-limits for her entire tenure in the home. She calls Jessica gleefully, informing her that she is currently standing in the pool which led to Jessica's expulsion from the home. Val laughs and splashes around in the pool as she breaks the unspoken rules that have governed her existence for the last two decades. Moving in with her daughter right after, Val tells her daughter that they will be together forever and that she is not going anywhere this time. After a small argument, Val learns that she has a grandson, Jorge and that Jessica is doing the same thing that she did with her. Val will not permit her daughter to do the same thing with her grandson because she personally understands how difficult it is to be away from her own child. Elated at the news, she tells Jessica to go get her son from back home and to bring him back so that they can all live together as a family.



Muylaert originally envisioned it before the release of her first feature film, Durval Discos (2002),[7] but she felt she was not capable of directing it at the time.[2] Originally titled A Porta da Cozinha (The Kitchen Door), it was based on Muylaert's own experience with a nanny, who took care of Muylaert's son after leaving her own daughter.[8] The screenplay was rewritten four times by her and Casé since its original conception[2] because Muylaert felt it was "immature".[7][8] Casé had an important role as she knew closely the reality of several Northeastern women who went to São Paulo to find a job, and Muylaert was cautious not to create a caricature of the central character.[8] She said she wrote the story because taking care of other people's children is "sacred work that is very underrated."[7] The film took nine months to make.[9]

The main filming location of The Second Mother, shot in February 2014, was a mansion in Morumbi, an affluent neighborhood of São Paulo.[2][7]


The Second Mother premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival,[10] in which Casé and Camila Márdila shared the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting.[11] Its European premiere took place in the Panorama section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival,[12] where it won the Panorama Audience Award.[13] On 15 December 2014 The Match Factory acquired international rights to the film.[14]


Box office

The film grossed R$6.2 million ($1.3 million) in Brazil and a worldwide total of $3 million.[3][15]

Critical reception

The Second Mother received critical acclaim. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 93 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "The Second Mother's compelling characters serve an artfully drawn, thought-provoking story that's beautifully brought to life by a talented cast."[16] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 82 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[17]


Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2015 Berlin International Film Festival C.I.C.A.E. Award Anna Muylaert Won [18]
Panorama Audience Award Won
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Language Film The Second Mother Nominated [18]
Sundance Film Festival World Cinema - Dramatic Regina Casé And Camila Márdila Won [18]
World Cinema - Dramatic Anna Muylaert Nominated
Seattle International Film Festival Best Actress Regina Casé 3rd runner-up [18]
Lima Latin American Film Festival Audience Award Anna Muylaert 2nd place [18]
Ljubljana International Film Festival Best Feature Won [18]
National Board of Review Top Foreign Films The Second Mother Won [18]
Top Five Foreign Language Films Won
Women Film Critics Circle Best Foreign Film by or About Women Won [18]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [18]
RiverRun International Film Festival Best Screenplay Anna Muylaert Won [18]
Satellite Awards Best Foreign Language Film The Second Mother Nominated [18]
2016 Critics' Choice Awards Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [18]
São Paulo Association of Art Critics Awards Best Film Anna Muylaert Won [18]
Best Actress Regina Casé Won

See also


  1. ^ "The Second Mother (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 24 July 2015. Archived from the original on 9 September 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Mestieri, Gabriel (18 February 2014). ""Com cara de povo", Regina Casé vive empregada em longa de Anna Muylaert". UOL Entretenimento (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b "The Second Mother (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  4. ^ Pessoa, Gabriela Sá (9 September 2015). "Brasil escolhe 'Que Horas Ela Volta?' para concorrer a vaga no Oscar". Folha de S. Paulo (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  5. ^ Lattanzio, Ryan (10 September 2015). "Brazil Names Foreign Oscar Submission". IndieWire. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  6. ^ McNary, Dave (10 September 2015). "Brazil Selects 'The Second Mother' as Oscar Entry". Variety. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d Guerra, Roberto (17 February 2014). "Cineclick acompanha filmagens do longa Que Horas Ela Volta?". Cineclick (in Brazilian Portuguese). Archived from the original on 9 September 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Guerra, Flávia (21 February 2014). "'É meu film mais difícil', diz Anna Muylaert sobre 'Que Horas Ela Volta?'". O Estado de S. Paulo. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  9. ^ Levine, Sydney (1 February 2015). "Sundance Interview and Review: 'The Second Mother'". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Sundance Institute Announces Films in US and World Competitions, for 2015 Sundance Film Festival". Sundance Film Festival. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  11. ^ "2015 Sundance Film Festival Award Winners" (PDF). Sundance Film Festival. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 February 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Selection of Fictional Films in Panorama Now Complete: 34 Features from 29 Countries" (Press release). Berlin International Film Festival. 16 January 2015. Archived from the original on 14 February 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  13. ^ Roxborough, Scott (14 February 2015). "Berlin: 'The Second Mother' Wins Panorama Audience Award". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  14. ^ Hopewell, John (15 December 2014). "The Match Factory Picks Up Sundance Title 'The Second Mother'". Variety. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  15. ^ Feix, Daniel (22 October 2015). "Lista: os filmes brasileiros campeões de bilheteria em 2015". GZH (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  16. ^ "The Second Mother". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  17. ^ "The Second Mother". Metacritic. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "The Second Mother – Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 22 January 2016.[unreliable source?]