“We are alone. No matter what they tell you, we women are always alone.”
Above all, Roma is a beautiful film. Writer/director Alfonso Cuarón steps up his laudable visual game, operating as cinematographer as well with outstanding confidence. The film is intrinsically tied to Cuarón’s experiences growing up in Mexico, and he does a magnificent job of recreating the time and place, presenting it as equal parts gorgeous and tragic.
The key is in the details. Lengthy single take shots explore Cuarón’s home in depth. Every inch of the screen is framed purposefully, the fixed camera tilting, panning and scouring its surroundings, the layered “action” within timed and choreographed to within millimetres of its life.
The narrative focus is on Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), maid to a proxy version of Cuarón’s own family. Through Cleo’s vantage point the idea of her and the family finding their place in the world is explored. It’s a look that’s regularly fascinating, yet the film’s semi-autobiographical nature means it’s such a deeply personal story that I largely felt emotionally disconnected.
Still, what it lacks in thrills it makes up for visually. Cuarón’s ability to find beauty in the ordinary is undoubtedly the film’s biggest boon. One which will ensure it remains untouchable in the cinematography category come awards season.
Rating (out of 5):