Ilo Ilo

Anthony Chen, a Singaporean writer-director with a half-dozen shorts to his credit, makes his feature debut with this vividly characterized domestic drama (2013), a prize winner at the Cannes film festival. A middle-class couple, clinging to respectability after the husband loses his job, hire a Filipino immigrant to clean their apartment and look after their bratty, troublesome school-age son. For a while their new employee puts up with his bullying and acting out, but eventually she manages to disarm and discipline the little monster, and his growing affection for her begins to arouse his mother’s jealousy. There are numerous story developments that don’t seem to go anywhere—a man in a neighboring apartment block jumps to his death, the mother falls under the sway of a motivational speaker—but Chen is admirably attuned to the family dynamics and how they’re shaped by money. In subtitled English, Mandarin, Tagalog, and Hokkien.