Lynn (Vicky Krieps) is a ordinary-looking young girl in Germany. She is quiet, puny, introspective, dons a Playmobil-style hairdo and wears very plain clothes. She is the type of person very few would take notice of; yet fewer would imagine that the apparently innocent Germany girl has some very twisted disorders and fetishes.
The insidious girl was recently discharged from a mental institution and now works as a chambermaid and the Eden Hotel. She takes pleasure from hiding under the beds of hotel guests and observe what they do. In addition, she has a compulsive habit of cleaning rooms even when they are not being used, despite insistence from her boss that this is not necessary. One day she observes (from under the bed) a guest having S&M sex with dominatrix Chiara (Lena Lauzemis), and she decides to hire the call-girl herself.
The contrast between Lynn and Chiara couldn’t be stronger, and yet their chemistry is strangely convincing. Lynn’s looks and demeanour are extremely similar to Macabéa in Brazilian classic The Hour of the Star (Suzana Amaral, 1985): both women are quiet, dull, mediocre-looking and yet inherently happy in their condition. On the other hand, Chiara is extremely good-looking, elegant and outrageous, some sort of androgynous, younger Annie Lennox.
While mostly aesthetically-conservative, The Chambermaid Lynn is a very subversive film, revealing that even the most conventional and ordinary-looking people often explore their sexuality and their desires in very daring ways. Despite the topic of voyeurism and fetishism, the film is very lighthearted, unpretentious and indeed enjoyable to watch. Male German filmmaker Ingo Haeb created a movie palatable to most people – not just German Lesbians – without resorting to screwball and clichéd devices. The Chambermaid Lynn is also a beautiful and sexy film, even if you are not attracted to women. It will leave audiences with a healthy and lingering sense of naughtiness to be explored.
At one point, Lynn sums up the ‘rationale’ behind one of her obsessions: “the best part about cleaning is knowing that it will get dirty again”. In a way, his sentence highlights the often absurd nature of pleasure, and it is a gentle reminder that it is OK to be a little crazy sometimes!
The film was adapted from a book by German author Markus Orths. Director Haeb explained: “Markus kept the character of Lynn very open while managing to depict her with great empathy. She is a mystery to the reader, but at the same time, her needs are completely understandable.
The Chambermaid Lynn is part of the 30th London LGBT Film Festival, which DMovies is following live right now. Click here in order to find out more about the event, and watch the film trailer below: