Jason’s review published on Letterboxd:
I was very excited for this and luckily got to see it on the big screen, which definitely enhanced the visual appeal of the film. First of all, formally this film is astounding. Cuaron has immense skill in executing sweeping, vast camera moves. I'm a little bit surprised that Cuaron hasn't got the same attention for doing the cinematography (and editing in this) that Paul Thomas Anderson got last year for Phantom Thread. This film is a testament to why black and white is still a fantastic tool for filmmakers. It enhances this film, making the film feel more set in its time and adds a general feeling to it that couldn't be matched by colour. From start to finish, this film is a visual delight and it's truly a joy to just sit back and take in its beauty.
But, the film's leisurely pace (if not slowness) does it no favours. I didn't expect this to be rapidly paced movie, but Cuaron takes a lot of time in the first hour to let us get to know these characters and while it does pay off in the second half, it feels just a little too slow. Of course it's trying to evoke a different time period and the flow of the film is meant to enhance all aspects of it, but it ultimately feels like the film would have benefited from getting through the story in that first hour a little bit quicker.
I have to say I did really enjoy the story, Yalitza Aparicio's performance is stunning, and the film has some jaw-dropping moments. However, I think parts of how the story is depicted means the film suffers a little bit in parts. Some of the shots do feel a little too choreographed, the shot of the family in the poster and the man singing while everyone is trying to put out the fire in the woods among them.
All in all, I really liked it but I haven't fallen for it the same way 95% of people seem to.