Review: Roma

Written by Film

With a combined total of 20 Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations, it’s fair to say my expectations of Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón’s latest project were extremely high. Whilst much of the intense hype is somewhat lost on me, there’s no denying that Roma is a technical masterpiece.

Set against the backdrop of politically tumultuous 1970s Mexico City, Roma follows the life of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a housemaid to a middle-class Mexican family. Her character is based on Cuarón’s own childhood nanny, Liboria “Libo” Rodriguez, to whom he dedicated the film. Over the course of the film both Cleo and her employer, Sofía (Marina de Tavira) experience profound betrayals from the men they love – mirroring Cuarón’s childhood memories of his increasingly absent father.

With his very meticulous cinematography, Cuarón somehow captured an enchanting element of mundane domesticity.

Shot in 65mm widescreen monochrome, Roma is aesthetically incomparable to much else. With many scenes filmed as single shots, the steady, panoramic camerawork has the curious quality of making you feel simultaneously immersed in and detached from the on-screen events. At times it almost feels as though you are a fly on the wall; privy to deeply intimate domestic moments. With his very meticulous cinematography, Cuarón somehow captured an enchanting element of mundane domesticity.

What is absent from Roma by way of colour is abundant in the film’s vivid soundscape. The sonic experience of Roma struck me more than the visual. Between the dissonant, incessant beeping of car horns, the crackling of the analogue televisions of the time and other nondescript ambient noises – it’s no surprise that the film has received Oscar Nominations for Sound Mixing and Editing. The clashy, cacophony is one that completely engulfs you, (often abruptly) placing you right in the middle of the action.

Roma is a mesmerising, emotive portrait of resilience that should be viewed on the largest possible screen you can find.

Yalitza Aparicio, who only auditioned for the role because her sister forced her to and later accepted it because “she had nothing better to do,” absolutely shone in her acting debut. Her own mother still presently works as a domestic worker, as such, she embodied the role with authority. The cultural significance of having an indigenous woman at the heart of a storyline cannot be overlooked. Her visibility will inevitably inspire a generation young people who almost never see themselves represented on screen.

Roma is a mesmerising, emotive portrait of resilience that should be viewed on the largest possible screen you can find.

Last modified: 26th February 2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *