josh lewis’s review published on Letterboxd:
avoided this one for as long as i could because i saw The Discourse very early on and didn't feel much like jumping into those waters. anyway, as i predicted, i ended up somewhere in the middle on this. i think a lot of outright hatred is pretty ungenerous and the glowing praise strangely uncritical. i do have to agree that there's something extremely icky about how cuarón chooses to depict this story as One Perfect Shot roller coaster cinema, a fetishistic nostalgia simulation that invites you to "ooh" and "awe" his craft even while he cynically shows you the most intimate pain of a real person he can't help but keep at a distance, more concerned about photographic detail than with genuine empathy and emotional / psychological pov. that being said the way this casually invites you into complex images of mexico is valuable and there is something very interesting (both intentional and not) here about the idea that no matter how much the family thinks they've welcomed cleo in that there's a class distance inherent to their relationship that keeps her on the sidelines. the over-intricate compositions and camera moves do lend themselves to capturing that distance to the point where this often feels like a bizarre and admirable atonement for not being able to see her when he was younger and it's sorta fascinating to me that even in his attempt to fix that, to recreate that time and place and center her perspective for all of us, cuarón still finds himself channeling her almost exclusively through his own memories (which brings us back to that fetishistic nostalgia) and that itself ends up being more truthful and revealing of how we unconsciously view the cleo's of the world than i think was intended. and, i do gotta say it, the craft is pretty unbelievable.