Raging Grace tells the story of Joy (Maxene Eigenmann), an undocumented Filipina woman who takes a job working for Katherine (Leanne Best), a woman of extreme wealth. Katherine asks Joy to care for her terminally-ill, elderly uncle who remains in bed locked into a terrible coma. To Joy, this position seems like a dream come true. Finally, she can earn enough money to secure a better life for herself and her young daughter, Grace. However, as dark discoveries begin to be revealed, Joy’s world begins to unravel, threatening the livelihood of her family.
Directed by Paris Zarcilla, Raging Grace is a complex and twisted tale that grips the audience and never lets go. Bathing the viewer within its multi-layered narrative, Zarcilla wants the experience to never allow one to be fully at ease. Even though Joy seems to have finally found the job that she has been searching for, we understand instantly that something seems wrong. Featuring a soundtrack that ticks like an over-wound clock, Grace inches closer to its shocking reveals and sinister truths.
However, as much as this is a film about secrets, it is also a story of racial inequity and privilege. For example, after Katherine hires Joy to care for her ailing uncle, we begin to see her exploit her new employee and keep her ‘under control’. Asking for simple meals as opposed to anything from her Filipino heritage, Katherine demands that her world remain unchanged. In moments like these, we can see the privilege within her soul. She cares little for Joy’s family or story and speaks with entitlement.
After all, Katherine believes that she’s not merely hiring a new employee. She’s doing Joy a favour.
Although Joy accepts her role, we see the pressure that Katherine’s self-righteous puts her under. From the moment that she steps into the home, Joy is afraid of been known, especially as a mother. There is no celebration of her story. Instead, she lives with a burden of shame.
To say anymore would begin to unravel the fun of the film—and there is much to be had. However, it’s worth noting that the true power of Raging Grace lies beyond its constantly unravelling mystery. This is a film which challenges assumptions about race and privilege while beating with a heart of justice.
And that heart beats in time with a ticking clock.
Raging Grace is now playing at Fantasia Fest ’23. For more information, click here.