In The Second Mother, Regina Casé, “The Brazilian Oprah,” plays Val, a live-in housekeeper who has devoted her life to taking care of the three members of a wealthy family: bossy socialite mother Bárbara, kind but spiritually-lost inherited-wealth father Carlos and son Fabinho, who is spoiled but a nice guy who is studying for his university entrance exam. When Fabinho wants warmth and understanding, he turns not to his mother, but to Val.

Val has a daughter, Jéssica, who lives with her father and to whom Val sends money. Jéssica resents her mother’s abandonment of her and hasn’t seen her in ten years. But out of the blue, Jéssica announces that she is coming to town to study for the same entrance exam as Fabinho and could she please stay with Val for a few days until she finds a place of her own. Val is delighted, but after she arrives, Val is shocked that Jéssica does not respect the social divide between her employers and their maid. Jéssica quickly bonds with Fabinho and his friends, and Carlos takes a liking to her as well. These developments do not sit well with Bárbara, who forces Jéssica out of the house.

If this was a film made in the United States, Regina Casé would probably have earned a best actress nomination.