It’s not that often when you’re able to describe a movie as beautiful and a masterpiece. Roma is one of those instances. Alfonso Cuaron directs one of the most personal and heartwarming movies ever made. The blend of the humane and the artistic within nearly every scene is breathtaking. It’s a masterful achievement in filmmaking as an empathy machine, a way for us to spend time in a place, in an era, and with characters we never would otherwise.
Roma takes us through a year in the life of Cleo, a servant for a wealthy family in Mexico City in the ‘70s. Cleo is no mere maid, often feeling like she is a part of the family she serves more than an employee—although she is often reminded of the latter fact as well. She may go on trips with them and truly love the children, but she also gets admonished for leaving her light on too late at night as it wastes electricity. Cleo is a quiet young woman, eager to do a good job, and able to stay out of the way when controversy arrives within the family, especially with the distant, often-absent patriarch. Everything changes for Cleo after an affair with a cousin of her friend’s boyfriend results in a pregnancy.
The key ingredient to the success of Roma, other than how it is shot, is the simplicity of the story. Cuaron shatters the notion that poetic cinema can’t be realistic cinema. There is no score in the background, just the sound of what we encounter every day: rain, airplanes, birds, etc. Cleo is an ordinary woman, she’s not a superhero nor a princess. She’s just a young innocent Mexican girl who falls for the wrong guy. The scene of both of them in bed sums up Cleo’s personality: her clutching the sheets, covering herself to the neck and Fermin completely naked confident with his body practicing his martial arts.
Yalitza Aparicio is a revelation. This is her first performance ever and she could not have done a better job. She was able to convey the simplest emotions with her facial expressions and her body language without having the need of uttering a single word. Marina de Tavira also plays the role of the abandoned wife and loving mother with great success.
Roma is for sure an “artsy” movie but it is one that I would watch over and over again.
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey
Verdict: Super Worth the Popcorn