With 2018 coming to a close, we wanted to end a wonderful year in entertainment with something special, and Netflix allowed us to do so, by making Alfonso Cuaron’s latest movie available.
“Why is that special?” you may ask yourselves, and the answer to that is twofold; first Cuaron’s “Children of Men” is one of the best movies ever made. Second, Roma has long been a passion project of Cuaron and a deeply personal project for him, which makes any project worthwhile let alone the deeply personal passion project of one of the best directors in the business.
“Was it that special?” Well it was; not “one of the best movies ever made” special, but a poignant reminder of what movies CAN be. Roma is beautiful, sad, reminiscent of childhood years, haunted by the hardships and cruelties we’ve endured, traumatized by our own nature, but hopeful and loving of our potential, our future, and our present.
In the base of it all is a great movie; Roma is two conflicting stories told at the same time, through the same character– Cleo, a housemaid to a middle class family in 1970’s Mexico– revolving around the same character, even though that character is deliberately passive in what happens around her and her reactions to them. Through Cleo, we experience two stories about love, family, betrayal, and unexpected events, in a place in the midst of political turmoil, and we experience that setting in Cuaron’s signature style; beautiful, wide shots and slowly-panning continuous scenes that give a sense of place and allow the viewer to immerse themselves deeper in the movie. Curaon’s style, not only makes this setting feel fresh and riveting from start to finish, it also allows Cuaron to make those moments of chaos and violence to feel unexpected, impactful, and–at the same time–build to those moments, making them stressful.
This must have been Cuaron’s most intricate, complicated, and difficult movie to shot because of those scenes, but don’t misunderstand and go in expecting an action movie or a thrilling movie of any sorts; Roma is a drama and those scenes are there for dramatic effect, just like Cuaron’s very deliberate choices of shooting this movie in black and white, making it deeply personal to him (most of this movie is memories of Cuaron’s childhood), and subtitling only Spanish dialogue (as a Spanish-speaking movie, it’s most of the dialogue but not all). Roma takes its time to deliver an engrossing cinematic experience that will charm most and provoke emotions for all; if not that, then it will awe people with its impeccable cinematography and overwhelming beauty, or with its faultless sound design and inspired use of music.
This being a very personal movie means that a lot of people won’t have the same reaction to it; some will absolutely adore it (Guillermo Del Toro has already placed it in his top 5 movies of all time), some won’t like it. We loved it and is one of our favorite Cuaron movies thus far; probably his best if taking subjectivity out of the question. A lot of why is Cuaron’s impressive skill set, but a special mention has to go to Yalitza Aparicio, the actress who sublimely played Cleo; she had an extraordinarily difficult task to overcome and she nailed this difficult role.
Thus, we bring an end to 2018 with a very special movie; a drama about family, class, love, and being human, from the incredible Cuaron. We wanted to end this year on something special, and I don’t think we could have had anything more special than Roma; even if this doesn’t sound like something you would enjoy or the type of movie you could sit down with your family to watch, this is a movie that is worth as many eyeballs fixated on it, as many ears and hearts listening to it, and as many brains thinking about it and being inspired by it.