Roma (2018) – Review

Roma is available to stream on Netflix beginning December 14th.

[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]

By David Cuevas

It’s that time of year again! Start roasting your chestnuts and celebrate your religious affiliations, because December is upon us yet again, where many of us celebrate with our families and friends for a good week-long escapade. In the same vein of this reunion feeling and holiday joy, Academy Award Winning Director Alfonso Cuarón returns to the camera after a 5 year long hiatus, to create a pitch-perfect testament and homage to the various parenthood figures we grow up and relate with. This film is, of course, the winner of this year’s Golden Lion: Roma.

Roma plays as an autobiography of sorts, from Cuarón’s personal experiences as a young child living in Mexico. The film focuses on Cleo, a domestic maid/nanny, whose life takes a bit of a turn when various events (not to spoil anything) occur, which affects her life in both a positive and negative way. Cleo is brilliantly portrayed by newcomer Yalitza Aparicio. Aparicio’s performance adds nuance and honesty to what could have easily come off as irritable and artificial. Due to Aparicio’s non-existent acting career before starring in Roma, her mannerisms and accent feel deeply rooted in her culture, which is something which we rarely see in most film productions nowadays, especially with the more popular foreign Hollywood actors, due to how they, more frequently, are “domesticated” into a pompous lifestyle which changes there point of view, and honest portrayal of their culture.

As a person who comes from a distinct Colombian Latin American Origin, what I find most interesting about Alfonso Cuarón’s latest, isn’t it’s detailed cinematography (which admittedly, Cuarón knocks this year’s competition out of the park), or timeless plot, but rather the small intricacies displayed of customs and character interactions on screen. From the surprisingly excellent child performances to the way sets are incorporated to establish tone and character, Cuarón’s vision is immaculate and almost a character within itself. What we see of this small suburban neighborhood isn’t just some set which one would simply notice in any regular film. Cuarón adds life to the streets of this neighborhood, adding kinetic energy with its extras, costumes, and most importantly sound design (which is easily a contender for the most beautifully mixed film of the year) which adds to an ultimately satisfying and fulfilling experience for many.

Roma isn’t a jam-packed, action-filled flick which one would see at the standardized cineplex. Roma is more of a diary presented in a stunning visual light. It relies on the audiences patience, carefully detailing each and every set piece before it can continue. Admittedly, this can get strenuous at times, but don’t let that stop you from seeing Cuarón’s latest near-masterpiece. It’s pure honest cinema that endears and transforms the film medium. So this year, when you’re with your family, either celebrating New Year’s, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever custom you celebrate, watch Roma with them. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be ending the year on a very high note.

I give Roma an A-.