SilentDawn’s review published on Letterboxd:
So many choices are the wrong choices in Roma:
If this is about Cleo, why is the spectator almost entirely left in the dark as to her existence beyond the physical? There is no emphasis of her connection to the family except in her own internal turmoil and misery and how the family exists without her, which Alfonso Cuarón blankets in the status of the higher class and their eventual generosity. Yuck.
If this is to be a film regarding memory, and the visceral presence of memories, why is Cuarón so adamant about not applying a specificity to the images, and letting it all play out without ownership? At so many moments, Roma is entirely aimless, with little to no context applied to its emotional weight or construction of its compositions and sequencing. This could've been about any family. Any maid. The setting is strong, but nothing reinforces why the film exists as it stands. All show.
If this is to be an emotional experience, and a film that has me connecting with Cleo and her journey, then why is she given no room to work with the punishing, unearned, torturous narrative beats that she is handed? Cuarón only wants the effect of the scene and the audience to receive it as expected. The empathy is fake, and its compassion is self-serving.