Release Date: December 14th, 2018
Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Enoc Leaño and Daniel Valtierra.
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Studio: Participant Media, Esperanto Filmoj
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Few movies I’ve seen have felt this deliberate, crafted with this amount of focus and intention of vision. The black-and-white color scheme. The sound mixing. The choice of whether to include subtitle translations. Each piece is an integral part of an awe inspiring whole, to create an experience as immersive as Gravity, despite what might seem on the surface as barriers.
Roma is the story of life. A life, and all the lives that come in and out of it over the course of about a year. Cleo, a ‘housekeeper’ in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City, works from before dawn to dusk and beyond to care for the family she works for.
She and Adela, another domestic servant, do everything for this family and their four young children. How can they have lives of their own? Despite this seemingly non-stop work, the two find time to go out, get into trouble, experience lives of their own… to a point. Their obligation to this family is never far from their minds.
The film starts with a prolonged credit sequence, names washing away as water continues to run. It is the necessary steps to begin a ritual, hypnotizing the audience into a more suggestive state for whatever comes next.
Through the next 135 minutes, the audience is told an incredible tale, one that touches on historic and emotional moments and how these people traverse them.
In stripping away every excessive sound and every drop of color we are not cut off from the movie. Instead we latch on to the one thing we need. It might be the humanity, the emotion, the struggle. We feel it intimately, with nothing else to distract us.
The apotheosis of this is in the labor scene. Never before have I felt myself transported into a delivery room, but Cuarón’s confident editting and camerawork does just that. It happens throughout the film, but just try and tell me you leave this scene feeling unaffected.
The world of Roma, of 1970’s Mexico, is so carefully detailed and realized, it feels like Mexico made film (at least to this rather ignorant American guy). It feels like there are so many uniquely Mexican experiences packed into it.
To related it to another, though less serious, example would be Forrest Gump.
Roma is a masterpiece, that it is sitting on Netflix right now for anyone to enjoy is a marvel. However, if you have the potential to see it in any theater near you, DO IT. At the very least, put your phone down and focus. It’ll be easy to do – Roma commands your attention.