Looking for something new to watch I took the advice of a friend and discovered a gem of a movie this past week. Directed and written by Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma” paints an amazing picture of two sets of people and how the world around them is full of turmoil.
“Roma” tells the story of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), who is one of two domestic workers for a well-to-do family. She takes care of the family’s four children along with keeping the house in pristine shape. Upheaval occurs when Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), who is the father of the household where Cleo works leaves his wife for his mistress. Cleo’s personal life is impacted when she finds she is pregnant by her boyfriend, who leaves her.
At the same time, the political climate in Mexico starts to boil over with daily demonstrations by students about the government’s oppressive rule on society. Over the course of about a year, Cleo works to find out who she is and to map out a future for herself amongst the chaos around her.
“Roma” is set in 1970s Mexico and is shot in black and white, which is a strong point in telling its story. The grays, whites and black colors make you feel like you are looking at a memory from the not so distant past. The colors help to express and deepen emotion in the film’s scenes, whether it is happiness, sadness or grief coming across the faces of the characters. It draws you into that moment as if you’re standing near that person but not next to them.
The audience’s role in this film is one of an observer’s taking in of the scene presented before them. And each scene includes little details that reveal more of Cleo’s world than can be expressed through dialogue alone. One such scene is in the film’s opening moments when the audience is shown sudsy water being moved about on a tile floor. As the water forms puddles, the audience can see the reflection of items inside of the house.
Aparicio’s performance in this movie as Cleo is spectacular. She was connected and in tune with her character, which allowed her to often communicate a depth of feelings through non-verbal means. It was powerful and to see someone take her acting ability to that level was a joy to watch.
To say “Roma” is just an art film is a discredit to the work put in by Cuarón and his talented cast. The 2018 film earned 2019 Oscars for best foreign language film, best director and cinematography. Cuarón also took home a Golden Globe for directing.
“Roma” is a movie that presents universal themes that people around the globe can relate to because they have either experienced these types of moments or know someone who has. It also shows how scars left by tough times shape our character and the person we want to be.
I give “Roma” 10 out of 10 stars. It is rated R for graphic nudity, some disturbing images and language. This movie runs for 135 minutes and is available to watch through the Netflix streaming platform.
More information about “Roma” can be found here.