Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Release date: November 21, 2018
Stylistic. Foreign language. Black and white. Beautiful cinematography. Full frontal cock shots. Roma has all the makings of a film student’s wet dream, but for us common folk, the pacing and lack of narrative make for a less rewarding experience.
Roma is the passion project of writer/director Alfonso Cuarón and the first film he has released since winning the best director Oscar for 2013’s Gravity. Roma won best picture at the Venice International Film Festival and is the second film from the festival to be distributed by Netflix. In an attempt to gain Oscar attention, Netflix elected to first release Roma in select theaters.
Roma is the story of a family living through a tumultuous year in early 1970’s Mexico City. The story is seen through the eyes of Cleo, a young housekeeper and nanny for an upper middle class couple and their four children. Through Cleo, we see not only her struggles, but also the deterioration of the family dynamic around her. All is endured while political tensions boil in the background. Roma, at its essence, is a deeply human family drama in the vein of Edward Yang’s Yi Yi.
I’m not here to interrupt the circle jerk currently taking place as a tribute to Alfonso Cuarón. The achievement of the movie is evident, and it’s almost to the point of self-gratification. Every shot feels intentional. Every decision feels purposeful. I could give a shit about sound editing but the quality of the sound editing was remarkably evident, even for a hill-billy dumb shit like myself. The quality of Cuarón’s directing is unimpeachable, but this is Worthalookmovies.com so we’re going to put down the film school curriculum and talk about this movie’s watchability for a moment.
There ain’t much.
Roma is semi-autobiographical. Our lauded director grew up in 1970’s Mexico city and is essentially telling the story in the setting of his own youth. This is where we run into some issues with the narrative. The setting of the movie is ambiguous from the outset, with only one mention of the time period throughout the movie. To an american viewer with no prior knowledge of Roma, this 1970’s Mexico City drama could very well be a 1960’s Salvadorian story. There are no establishing scenes to be sure. There’s also political conflict throughout, never explained. It’s possible that the ambiguity within the movie’s narrative is specific to American viewers and the intended audience has a better grasp, but I’ve checked the numbers and no one in Mexico has ever visited this site.
This is one of those movies that is slow as molasses with not much of a payoff. The overall themes of innocence lost and innocence preserved are the real goal of this one, however it doesn’t feel as profound as it hopes to be. It feels blasphemous to refer to a movie with this much attention to detail and directorial prowess as a snoozer… but to keep it a buck… its a snoozer.
Is the movie everything that it’s been made out to be? From a technical sense, sure. It’s a real pretty movie. Yalitza Aparicio shines in a layered performance as our leading lady Cleo. It has symbolism and secondary themes falling out of its ass.
Was it worth the drive to an obscure theater when it’s going to be released on Netflix later this month? No. It’s the absolute antithesis of a popcorn movie, which isn’t an inherently bad thing. It’s been said that this movie needs to be seen in theaters, but that seems like an outdated notion in a world with 70″ TVs and soundbars that could make a YouTube make-up tutorial sound like Dunkirk. My advice is to wait until this hits Netflix. Don’t get caught up in the hype, temper your expectations, and you might really enjoy Roma.
Please leave a comment and let me know how much of a jackass I am. Maybe I’m an airhead. Maybe I couldn’t appreciate all of the beautiful shots enough because I was trying to read the subtitles with my third grade reading level. Responses appreciated!