Roma (2018)

roma poster 2018 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great visuals, great cast, compelling

Story that is more of a slice of life may not be for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Roma

Studio:  Espectáculos Fílmicos El Coyúl

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  August 30, 2018 (Venice)/November 21, 2018 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

roma cleo roof yalitza aparicio

Cleo…the best mother you can fire

In the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City, Cleodegaria “Cleo” Gutiérrez (Yalitza Aparicio) is an indigenous maid and childcare provider for the home of Sofía (Marina de Tavira), Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), the four children, and the grandmother Teresa (Verónica García). Cleo’s connection to the family is threatened when Cleo finds herself pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend Fermín (Jorge Antonio Guerrero) and the marriage of Sofia and Antonio begins to break-up…but a woman’s love for “her” children knows little obstacles.

Written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, Roma is a semi-autobiographical black-and-white drama set in Mexico City in the 1970s. The film premiered at Venice Film Festival and won the Golden Lion and was released by Netflix on November 21, 2018 along with a limited theatrical release. The film tied the record for most nominations by a non-English film (with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) at the Academy Awards with wins for for Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, and nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Yalitza Aparicio), Best Supporting Actress (Marina de Tavira), Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.  The Criterion Collection released a special version of the film (Criterion #1014).

roma cleo sofia marina de tavira yalitza aparicio

I know how much you love children…so what if I had one? Wouldn’t that be fun?

Alfonso Cuarón is a gifted director who showed a great flare for drama with Y Tu Mama También in 2001. Recently, Cuarón has provided great science-fiction and fantasy films with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Children of Men (2006), and Gravity (2013)…it was odd for him to return to a smaller format, but the personal picture really works.

The story is rather minimal, and it feels more like a “slice of life” type of story in the vein of Bergman and other foreign directors. While the movie easily feels it could turn at any moment (and it somewhat does involving Cleo and her unborn child), the film largely feels like a “life goes on” type of story that shows that there are adversities and giant moments in your life…but you endure. It might always feel like the end, but things get better (or at least return to normal).

roma cleo delivery baby yalitza aparicio

Well…your boyfriend definitely gets “worst boyfriend” classification

Yalitza Aparicio oozes with sympathy as the lead actress. You feel for her and the fact that she is essentially a second mother (maybe even primary mother) to the children. You could easily say that, but Marina de Tavira is also sympathetic and not entirely uncaring for her workers…but she can also dismiss them if she’s angry. I even like the small scenes involving the grandmother played by Verónica García who finds herself trapped with Cleo when she goes into labor. Jorge Antonio Guerrero goes down as one of the all-time “bad boyfriends”.

The simple story and strong acting are bolstered by amazing cinematography. The film is gorgeous. It is loaded with long, tracking shots and great uses of light. The sequence at the end with the sun low on the horizon as Cleo risks herself by going into the water after the children is perfect…along with the framing of the “poster” shot which has a lot of iconographic imagery. Cuarón isn’t afraid to hold a shot longer than the average shot, and it pays off.

roma beach scene yalitza aparicio marina de tavira

You know I’m going to have dock your pay for this…right?

Roma is a great film that deserves much of the praise it gets. Cuarón based events of his story after his childhood and the people that worked in his home. Events like the riot are semi-fictionalized real events based on the Corpus Christie Massacre and the paramilitary group called Los Halcones, and Cuarón presents them in a way that shows how different it was to grow up at that time. Roma is the type of movie that could go on and on but still manages to be captivating. It questions the way that people treat and interact with “servants” when normally they are just supporting characters in films…but as Cleo proves they are really often so much more.

Related Links:

The 91st Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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