Andrew Estrella’s review published on Letterboxd:
Before I even start my review, I must say that despite how good this film may be, Roma may be one of the most overrated films of all time. It was so ridiculously overhyped that I think it affected my experience just a smidge. I mean, come on people, I did not start to levitate after the credits rolled. I would almost call this the Infinity War or the Dark Knight of overrated foreign films.
With all of that being said (lol I don't mean to trash the film, just the people who are overhyping it), I sincerely enjoyed Roma. With such pristine cinematography, editing, and long takes, I couldn't believe how Alfonso Cuaron dedicated so much time and effort for his very simplistic story. The story follows a domestic worker who works as a maid for a mother of four children, where she deals with the struggles of the job and her own personal troubles, amidst a troubled period in Mexico during the 1970s. Despite the simplistic story, I was incredibly moved by the main actor and all of the supporting cast, who most have surprisingly only starred in this film.
There were several scenes in this film that deeply moved me (in positive and negative ways); one involving a pregnancy and one during a trip to a beach, in particular. Even when the film is not moving you, there are tons of moments that are full of laughter, especially a couple scenes involving narrow spaces. From laughter to emotion to even really uncomfortable weird scenes, Cuaron does an extremely great job at conveying all types of feelings for the viewer.
The two pinnacle components of Roma that really caught my attention were the long-takes and background characters. The long-takes were extremely well done, when they were not done in an attempt to show how many long takes the director can fit into one film. There are so many scenes in this film that are all filmed in one-take, and whenever Cuaron pulls it off in the right way, it really conveys many amazing feelings. The one on the beach is unforgettable. Even the long take during the opening credits is spectacular. Many of the takes are extraordinary, but it is worth noting that some are just done just because, and really have no merit. Like, do I need to see our main character walk up the stairs for two minutes? No, I do not.
The other thing that really caught my attention were the background characters because every single individual person in the background had their own story. A scene in a theater was done so well, that you could look at any person or couple in the audience, and they would all be doing something so unique and different. Any scene throughout the film that had background characters were all doing something special, and it makes me feel like Cuaron gave direction to every single individual. It felt like I was watching real people, and it was amazing.
As for complaints, the film does go a little style over substance in some cases. Like I said, the story is simplistic, well-done, and I did care a lot, but the long takes do become a little over-indulgent. I just wish that instead of the director having the need to praise his own skills, that we would just get back to the story at hand. Also, not really a complaint on the film or anything, but people, this is not the best movie ever made.
Regardless, the film is a very high eight out of ten. I really do love Roma.
PS: It is worth noting that The Chambermaid was trying to pull off a lot of what this film was trying to do, but the latter exceeded in every possible way.