Class barriers are present and thriving all over the world, but they’re often unspoken. The rich employ nannies to bring up their children whilst those employed to care for the progeny of others often have to leave their own offspring. Normally the justification behind this is money, but as Anna Muylaert’s new film A Second Mother deftly demonstrates, it often ends up hurting everyone involved.

Val (Regina Casé) has been working in the São Paulo household of Carlos (Lourenço Mutarelli) and Barbara (Karine Teles) for many years now. She left her daughter, Jessica (Camila Márdila), at home but has virtually brought up the rich couple’s son Fabinho (Michel Joelsas) herself. When Jessica arrives with the hope of studying architecture it opens up a new window in Val’s life and brings the unsaid problems of both families to the fore.

The Second Mother is an exquisitely realised tale of modern class differences in Brazil. It’s beautifully acted and Regina Casé is simply fantastic as the bottled-up and loving Val. Anna Muylaerts skilfully avoids proceedings descending into soap opera by injecting just the right around of comedy and drama around her leading lady. It’s refreshing to see such a sweet film about a serious socio-economic issue which avoids melodrama or invented traumas.

The Second Mother is out in cinemas on Friday.