Since her mother passed away, Grace has become a surrogate parent in the house; taking care of her younger brother, Matthew, and tending to her father, Leigh. When Leigh brings a foreign maid, Mariela, into their conventional home, Grace’s life is thrown off balance. She begins to notice mysterious changes in her father, as well as signs of trauma and abuse in Mariela. As these things become too disturbing to ignore, Leigh reveals that Mariela will no longer be working there and the next day, she is gone. After Mariela’s departure, Grace begins to find clues hinting that something is taking place far more sinister than she could have ever imagined.
Director Max Rousseau Statement:
Let me start out by saying I am not an activist. I’m a storyteller. I’m interested in characters, who, through certain hardships, are able to find their inner courage. I have written this story as a creative interpretation of real events, some that I’ve experienced in my own life.
I have been fascinated and greatly disturbed by the subject matter of Pembroke Circle for as long as I can remember. In my youth, I had written a script about how the world would be different if slavery still existed. In 2004, I came across “The Girls Next Door”, an exposé published in The New York Times. It told the story of teenage girls from Central America being sold for sex in a seemingly safe suburban neighborhood. What seemed like a figment of my imagination was happening; right in our own backyard.
Many films on the topic show the forces of good effortlessly conquering the offenders and victims being rescued without any emotional scarring, living a free life once again. They fail to acknowledge the psychological damage that these victims endure, as well as true cost of these crimes. With great difficulty, I have read numerous case studies, none of which described any happy endings. Essentially, nobody wins.
I consider Pembroke Circle a coming of age story. Grace, the main character, discovers the dark side of her world. Growing up in suburban America, she believes that her environment is perfect. Her false sense of security slowly shatters as the film progresses. Having lost her mother, she desperately wants to keep what is left of her family “intact”, but she can’t deny that something is not right in her house.
What truly connects me to her journey is the fact that she’s not a larger than life hero; she is a regular person, a little girl. She doesn’t have the tools to face the obstacles she’s up against in this story.
While this is not a message film, I do hope it will bring more awareness to the issue when I share it with the world.