Hitting select cinemas and streaming worldwide over Netflix is this black and white diamond from Alfonso Cuaron. It’s a commanding and quietly fascinating story that speaks of class, family, conflict and love.
Cleo Gutierrez (Yalitza Aparicio) is a housemaid for a well off family and her time off is spent with fellow maids and her boyfriend. However when Cleo believes she’s pregnant her partner scarpers. As she continues looking after the children and chores she tries dealing with her impending due date.
Opening and closing on a worms eye view of a gliding plane overhead, this film feels like a smooth flight. Cuaron not only directs, but produces, writes and edits this film that he’s called a semi-autobiographical take on his own bringing up. The way he captures the story is fairly exquisite, with serenely tracking camera movements being the predominant feature of how we see this world.
‘Roma’ is a film that looks grand yet is a story that is contained and beautiful. The visuals of many extras and bustling Mexican streets either through well captured protests or classes in martial arts look amazing, they retain some calm engrossing quality that show how visuals can do the talking more than bundles of dialogue do. A beach scene in the Galaxie is mesmerising and tense and ends on a cinematic shot shown in the above poster that will doubtless be an iconic image for years to come.
The story itself may be simple but it’s sold by a fantastic performance from Aparicio, who has never had any form of drama training, furthering the proof that she’s a talent to keep an eye on. The way she almost mutely goes through this story is oddly powerful and you can feel, through her ordeals and duties, a very personal mood that must emanate from Alfonso Cuaron and his childhood.
This is a film that I definitely would have loved to have witnessed up on a big screen but in a way, ignoring all the grand framings that Cuaron has mastered, it is a narrative which suits the small screen, something you can really draw up close to and appreciate. There’s a calming spirit which flows with effortless glory throughout the movie and it goes to show what a force of good storytelling lies within the soul of Cuaron.
Though it might not be something I’d repeat watch in a rush, it’s a gorgeous piece of cinema that needs to be seen at least once.