Roma

Roma ★★★★½

I tried to write my thoughts about this for over a week. I’m just going to write freely and then post. So here we go...Any shot where Alfonso Cuarón lingered triggered me to lock it away and pour over what it could and did mean for our characters and the themes of the film. Much of this film was visually dream like - so many of my interpretations of the things which stood out to me I researched from a dreamers viewpoint. Here’s what I have so far after the first watch:

Swans: The swans are walking about at Sofia’s family’s estate. There is a particular scene where a swan is very aggressively attempting or actually mating with another swan and has it pinned down. Swans are a symbolism of motherhood, devotion, love and partnership. As waterfowl they are connected to the water which for me is the most dominant allegory of the film. I believe the swans can be a comparison for both Cleo/Fermin and Sofia/Antonio. Sofia has an established commitment through marriage with her husband but we see the way in which she loves him as she clutches him with every fiber of her being while he keeps his back to her and allows her to give that much more of herself even as he refuses to respect or dignify her display by even turning and facing her. Cleo and Fermin are so new one may not even classify them as a couple but the scene in the movie theater and on the soccer field when Fermin lashes out at Cleo - he mirrors that angry swan pinning his object down with no regard for her. 

Dog Shit: “To see dog poop in a dream represents a problem created by a loss of self-control over your instincts and urges. A situation that may require you to fix it or ‘clean it up.’ Dog poop is a sign that you need to be more careful, think more before you take action, and be more respectful towards others. The person who takes the most issue with the dog shit everywhere is Antonio. Even though we don’t see the doctor and “man of the house” very long what we do discover as the film progresses is that he is absolutely putting his urges above his family. His wife on the other hand is losing control of her own balance by the absence of her husband while he is away. Who do they all demand clean up the mess of it all? Cleo of course...as the maid it’s a part of her responsibilities but she is also fixing everyone and everything else around her with a grace and resolve that is so moving I found myself wanting to weep at the most routined tasks she was engaging in throughout the length of the film.

Airplanes: This was a component in both the beginning and ending shots. This in a dream symbolizes new life or opportunities. Where we started and ended with this family was very different. There were shifts on the horizon which weren’t welcomed at the onset but by the end that next chapter felt more promising.

Water: Water represents birth and rebirth for me. As Roma starts and I begin to see the water gliding, pooling and then receding for several minutes there is serenity and beauty in the simplicity. There is water or a connection to water in every pivotal moment of the film. Be it the rod of a shower curtain, the rain accompanied with a discovery, the glass of pulque spilling and breaking along the stone and foreshadowing and visually matching the pool of liquid we see around Cleo at the furniture shop and finally the ocean - where our main character disregards inability and fear for her family. Water also gave way to deep truths and the professing of those truths allow for two women to be reborn.

The scene of the field where Cleo masters centering herself in tree pose with her eyes closed and head to the sky made me lose my breath for a moment. I just absolutely fell in love with that shot. While I know many of Cleo’s motives, feelings or frustrations are never vocalized and it may have put some off that she wasn’t explored enough or unintentionally downplayed - I feel this particular scene gave meaning and reason as to why. She is still and calm through the chaos. Even in the moments where her emotions do spike it’s as if she has an invisible reservoir of equilibrium. Sometimes quiet strength is so powerful it reverberates over chaos and assuages all the undeserving events she is confronted with in her life. The pose and stillness of her being showed me who she was and it was majestic. 

I’m so happy I saw this in theaters first. I’m going to watch it on Netflix but have every intention of going back to the theater again to watch it. Stunning, masterful and meaningful. Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira deserve every accolade coming their way.

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