Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence, nudity, offensive language & content that may disturb
Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo
Marina de Tavira as Sofia
Fernando Grediaga as Antonio
Jorge Antonio Guerrero as Fermín
Marco Graf as Pepe
Daniela Demesa as Sofi
Diego Cortina Autrey as Toño
Carlos Peralta as Paco
Nancy García as Adela
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
A story that chronicles a year in the life of a high-class family’s maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.
There had been a lot of hype for Roma for a little while. Alfonso Cuaron has made his mark on cinema with films like Children of Men and Gravity. His next film is very different, a very intimate movie. I deliberately stayed away from the hype, with so far with myself finding all the critically acclaimed movies this year that I’ve seen great, I didn’t want to be in a position to let myself down with it due to my own anticipations. Thankfully, Roma more than delivered.
You do have to go into Roma expecting what kind of movie it’ll be. Most of the movie just seems to be following this family as life goes by really. Personally, I was invested in the movie and what was going on, and they did a good job keeping you constantly interested despite some of the things that happen seemingly being mundane and normal things. The movie felt quite real, with the events that happens as well as the dialogue, it all just feels really honest and personal, Cuaron did a great job with the script. I was really liking the first half of the movie but it didn’t really seem to have much of a point, it was around that one hour mark that I was wondering when the movie will really pick up. Then without spoiling anything, the second half is one big emotional hit, and it all really came together, that’s what I’ll say. I can see people being rather bored with Roma, the movie is 2 hours and 15 minutes long. With that, you really have to be in the mood to sit down and watch the movie from start to finish, you can’t just put it on at any time and just enjoy it no matter what.
The acting all around is great, with the actors playing the family being really good. The stand out performance of the entire movie however is Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, the lead of the movie who plays a maid of the family. She practically carries the movie and her performance just feels so natural and real. It’s also worth noting that this is her first film role. Definitely deserving of a lot more praise than she’s been receiving.
Alfonso Cuaron’s direction is immaculate, you could probably tell that that was going to be the case already though. This is a stunning looking movie, AC did the cinematography himself and it looks beautiful, really placing itself in Mexico City (and other locations) in the 70s. Cuaron is known for having some stand out long tracking shots, like that famous tracking shot early in Children of Men, or multiple shots in Gravity. Roma on the other hand doesn’t have any stand out tracking shots really, but he does use a lot of smaller long takes. They are rather subtle and not particularly showy but very effective. For example, sometimes a shot lingers or a shot slightly follows some characters and you see things happening in the background. Things like this are very effective visual storytelling and it also adds to the immersion of the movie. I’m not entirely sure if the movie needed to be in black and white, but in some way it actually kind of worked. Roma is a Netflix movie but has gotten so much acclaim that some cinemas are showing it. If you can watch in a cinema, try to check it out there, not that there’s anything hugely wrong with watching it on Netflix. I say this because not everyone is fortunate enough to have nearby cinemas that show it, and also because I just decided to watched it on Netflix anyway and I nonetheless had a great experience with it.
I can see some people watching Roma and not really loving it. It does require a bit of patience and it doesn’t really seem to have much of a point until the second half of the movie. On top of that, all the hype and praises of it being apparently one of the best of the year could diminish people’s enjoyment of the movie, especially considering that Roma is very lowkey and never really showy at any point. While halfway into the movie I was liking it, by the end I came out it loving it. With the performances and the wonderful direction by Cuaron, Roma is a beautiful film that is worth checking out at the very least. While I’m not sure if I’d consider it one of my favourite movies of the year and I don’t see myself revisiting it, I can say that Roma is one of the best films of the year.