Synopsis by Mark Deming
A Hispanic woman and her young daughter are thrown into the middle of a well-to-do but remarkably dysfunctional family in this comedy drama from writer and director James L. Brooks. Flor (Paz Vega) is a single mother who has struggled to support her daughter Cristina (Shelbie Bruce) working as a domestic in Mexico. Hoping to give her daughter greater financial security, Flor packs up their belongings and moves the family to California, but Flor refuses to surrender her Latino identity and opts not to learn English; meanwhile, Cristina quickly learns to speak the language fluently. Flor lands a high-paying job working as a housekeeper for Deborah Clasky (Téa Leoni); Deborah doesn't speak a word of Spanish, but this is hardly the most curious thing about their working relationship. A deeply troubled neurotic who has spent time in a mental hospital, Deborah is at once obsessed with her duties as a wife and mother and utterly clueless to her family's needs, and when she learns that Flor has a daughter, she insists that the girl move in with the Claskys. Flor, however, isn't so sure she wants Deborah Americanizing Cristina, especially when Deborah begins doting on the girl at the expense of her relationship with her own daughter, Bernice (Sarah Steele). Deborah's husband, John (Adam Sandler), is an oasis of loving calm and understanding in the midst of his chaotic family, and Flor becomes attracted to this man who shows no signs of the arrogant machismo she's accustomed to. But John's career as a chef is turned upside down when The New York Times gives his restaurant a four-star review, suddenly turning his small eatery into the "in" spot in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Flor reaches the end of her patience when Deborah enrolls Cristina into an exclusive private school which Flor is certain will turn her into a typical American child and drive a wedge between Cristina and her mother. Spanglish also stars Cloris Leachman as Deborah's sharp-tongued mother.
Hispanic, housekeeper, daughter, mother, single-parent, dysfunctional, language-barrier, parent/child-relationship, American [nationality], communication, family, neurotic, private-school, cultural-identity