Victor’s review published on Letterboxd:
Truthfully, I was at a loss for words when I first saw this film. I really don’t like my first review, as I was still speechless when I wrote it and forced a review out too quick. So, I am going to try to articulate some of my thoughts and feelings on the film a little better here.
Roma is massive. The scale of this film is remarkable. Roma manages to feel so big, yet so small at the same time. It feels so grand, sweeping and epic, yet so small, intimate and personal, somehow simultaneously. I think this is due to the emotional weight held in Cleo’s character. The emotional weight of her character is so heavy for me that I never feel distanced from the film, despite it operating in primarily long, omniscient shots that seem to be all encompassing. The emotional burden of Cleo, for me, seems to be so present, massive, and front and centre for me even when she is taking up such a small part of the frame. She has such an emotional presence in the film that she never gets lost in the films massive scale. To me this is vital. I could see how it would be easy to get distracted by the films out of this world technical display, but for me, Cleo’s authentic, devastating and touching performance is the vital emotional anchor.
It still is really tough to talk about the cinematography. Literally every frame is magnificent. Part of what makes it so outstanding are the compositions and framing in each long take. The film has numerous long-takes, and the camera will move from one space to another, and each time it rests on an object, event or person, the composition is so beautiful and framed perfectly. Cuaron put so much effort into the visual presentation of this film, evident in even the first shot. The choreography, thought, and effort put into each shot deserves so much praise. For me, the film uses its few uses of close-ups at the most effective times. They are sparse, for sure, but when they appear they really succeed and compliment the emotional weight of their respective scene.
Aside from the exquisite cinematography and authentic performances the aspect of this film that succeeds in immersing you the most is easily the sound design. Not only is the sound quality and the numerous layers of sound outstanding, but the use of multi-directional sound is probably the best I have ever heard in a film. There are so many sounds this film presented that I feel as if I will always remember clearly, such as waves, marching bands, fires, and random dudes yelling in the street from a distance.
I will be seeing this film again next week, and I will continue praising this film once I see it a second time. I have come to peace with the fact that I will never be completely happy with what I write about this film, as doing it justice with words is an impossible task, in my opinion. This really is a film that just needs to be experienced. I really think this is a special and extraordinary piece of film-making that will occupy my thoughts and film discussions for quite some time.