Roma ★★★★★

One of the most accomplished directors in cinema history, Alfonso Cuarón, reached into his own life experiences as a child to tell the story of an upper class family living in Mexico City in the early 1970s. Except, he told the story from the point of view of the family's native live-in servant, Cleo (superbly played by Yalitza Aparicio, bilingual in Spanish and her indigenous tongue.) That isn't to say that a central focus isn't on the family: strong mother driven to financial difficulties by the desertion of her unfaithful husband, four young children (3 boys and a girl), and elderly grandma. But the salient plot points concern the life of the beloved, loyal servant. I'm offering no further plot spoilers. Just watch the film. It is an exquisite upstairs-downstairs character study.

However, I'd like to add some observations. Cuarón chose to shoot the film in wide screen B&W, which was a brilliant way to evoke the nostalgia for that period of his life. Cuarón was his own cinematographer here; and, seriously, this was the most artfully shot film I've watched in years (perhaps some of this was due to pre-production discussions with Cuarón's usual cinematographer, the great Emmanuel Lubezki, who bowed out from shooting Roma due to a work conflict.) This is a director who has made a career out of creating visually unforgettable scenes (for example, one of the most amazing tracking shots in the history of film in Children of Men, and the most realistic space-walk ever in Gravity). But this film was comprised of one memorable and impactful scene after another...e.g. a heart-clenching beach rescue, a heart-breaking still birth, lonely jet planes flying high in the sky going who-knows-where, realistic portrayals of riots and the cult of toxic marshal arts. But more than anything, Cuarón's script highlighted his affection for and appreciation of the devoted young girl who, even more than his parents, apparently raised him. This was a stunning act of love which affected me deeply.

Block or Report

Ken liked these reviews