3/4

Roma [2018] ★★★

“Roma” doesn’t look or feel like any other movie I’ve seen in 2018, and not just because it was shot in black and white. It has a distinct atmosphere, and that’s obvious from the very first shot. Director Alfonso Cuarón transports us back to his childhood neighborhood in Mexico City. The year is 1970 and we’re watching life unfold before our eyes as he recreates every single detail of his family home. The mother struggles to raise all 4 of her children when the father walks away one day. The story is mostly told from the point of view of a domestic worker called Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) who witnessed everything and played a huge role in raising the kids while dealing with problems of her own. It’s an intimate piece for sure, and Cuarón poured his heart into it by writing, editing, directing and producing the film. There are moments where I expected something huge to take place. That’s what might have happened in a mainstream Hollywood film perhaps, but Cuarón isn’t interested in that. He wants to explore the “ordinary” drama of everyday life: the trials of being a parent, the obstacles domestic workers face, the joy of childhood. The arc of the story is ambitious, and it only sinks in when the movie ends and you realize how much life can change in less than a year. It helps that the film is beautifully shot. It also helps that all the actors are up to the task. My only complaint is that I felt detached from the story at times and I wish I felt more emotions in key moments. I know that “Roma” has been praised through the roof and is basically a shoe-in to win an Oscar for Best Foreign language movie. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the film is simply beautiful to look at. But you should know straight away that it moves at a leisurely pace, which means it won’t appeal to every moviegoer. But if you’re a cinema student or a movie buff or perhaps a fan of Alfonso Cuarón’s work, from “Children of Men” to “Gravity”, then consider “Roma” a must-see.

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