jack’s review published on Letterboxd:
For the first 30 minutes of "Roma," I wasn't onboard; the pacing for this film is time consuming and it seemed Alfonso Cuaron was delving into a pretentious, arrogant picture with the intent to manipulate the audience. Needless to say, I'm eating my words. For breakfast. Without milk.
"Roma" is a daunting film, one especially daunting because of Cuaron and the universal praise the film has been spouting out (if anyone cares, "Roma" sits comfortably at a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 96 on Metacritic) and I feel as though your credibility will flounder if you're one of the few who don't vibe with Cuaron's rhythmic and sentiment style. Cuaron's praise has always been questioned --and it should be-- because this is the man who cranked out the technical marvel "Gravity," the cult classic Sci-Fi drama "Children of Men," and the best Harry Potter film (and, for a while, was his greatest achievement....). His films are great, but not even "The Prisoner of Azkaban" delves into the masterwork territory, like the other films have been claimed to be. Cuaron's no stranger to critics loving his pictures. Going into "Roma," this praise of this being Cuaron's best work automatically plagued my mind. Look no further: this is Alfonso Cuaron's best film and one of the finest films of the year.
Looking back at the previous films of Cuaron, his eye for technical spectacle and visual poetry doesn't leave in "Roma;" Cuaron's cinematography is some of the best of the year, with some of the most beautiful tracking shots, close-ups, and landscapes you'll see. From his previous films, it seemed as though Chivo, the beloved Mexican cinematographer (and personal favorite of mine), was the voice of the spectacle marvel and in some ways, Chivo was that voice. But even when Cuaron doesn't team up with him, his films still manage to look visually arresting; Cuaron's films are poetic and he understands the beauty of the image. "Roma" is, unquestionably, Cuaron's most visually stunning work, one that bursts with intimacy and breathtaking beauty.
This is also Cuaron's most personal work, one that he claims is semi-autobiographical. And it shows on how miniscule and intimate he directs this. This is arguably his greatest direction for a film, for the sheer fact that his love for "Roma" leaks through each frame. It's a movie made from passion, one from memories and remembrance; Cuaron looks into the past through the eyes of one of the children in the film, aged and more exposed to the world. He remembers now how hard the caretakers worked and how human these people are. Which in turn, sparks praise for Yalitza Aparicio's performance, one that can be simply said as this: real and human. We're not watching a character, this is a person living her life and experiencing life at its most beautiful and flawed. Aparicio performs better than most performances I've seen all year.
It's a damn shame that "Roma" is being released on Netflix because it's one of the finest films of the year and a visual treat. One that takes its time to establish its purpose and makes us feel for the atmosphere and characters. This is reality, one filled with as much joy as much sorrow. Cuaron has finally made his masterwork, the film that he will be remembered for until the day he dies.
EDIT: idk bout this chief