Directed, written, and produced by Alfonso Cuaron, Roma is one of the best films of 2018. It should, and will, be considered for many Oscars. And yes, for those wondering, it will qualify for more than just the Best Foreign Language Film.
Cleo is a maid in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. She works for Sofia, who’s husband Antonio is a doctor. The household also contains the four kids, the grandmother Teresa, and a second maid Adela.
Cleo becomes pregnant and tells her boyfriend, Fermin, this at a movie date. Fermin seems good with the shocking news at first, but after leaving to go to the bathroom, we find out he has left Cleo. In the meantime, Antonio has left Sofia putting a serious strain on her and thus the rest of the family.
“We Are Alone. No Matter what they tell you, we women are always alone.”
Cleo finds out where Fermin is thanks to Adela’s boyfriend Ramon. He is doing martial arts training with a hundred other young men in a dirt field. When the training ends Cleo confronts him and tells him the kid is his. Fermin gets angry at this and tells Cleo to never see him again about this. If she does, Fermin threatens to kill her and the kid.
Later Cleo is shopping for a crib with Teresa. On the street below a student protest breaks out into violence and chaos. The chaos makes its way into the shop where a young man kills one of the students who made his way into the shop to hide. The murderer leaves the shop along with his partners who had kept the rest of the customers held at gunpoint. As they leave we find out the man holding the gun to Cleo and Teresa is Fermin. The stress of the situation causes Cleo’s water to break.
After arriving at the hospital we see Antonio there working as he comforts Cleo before making up an excuse to leave the awkward situation. As Cleo goes through the trials of labor the baby is born lifeless. The doctors and nurses do everything they can to bring the baby to life, but to no avail.
The film draws to a close later on a family trip at the beach. Cleo saves two of the kids from drowning and in the emotion of the moment spits out she never wanted the child to be born anyways. The family comes together around cleo as they thank her for saving the kids and to comfort her during her difficult time.
What I Liked About Roma
Roma is stunning to watch, with phenomenal cinematography. Featuring Cuaron’s signature experience of long takes and few cuts make it an easy movie to watch. Today’s movies feature far to many back and forths cuts, making some scenes a headache. I really enjoyed the long takes of the camera panning or rotating during long takes. It seems the camera was put in a corner and followed certain characters movements back and forth across the set. This was far better than setting up multiple cameras to cut around for a simple scene.
I also liked that no punches were pulled in showing life for these characters. Sure it can depressing but this is Mexico City in the 1970s we’re talking about. The delivery scene was truly heartbreaking, and only done more beautfiully thanks to the long take.
All the actors and actresses are great in their roles, most certainly thanks to Cuaron. I feel this is the pinnacle of his career achievements so far, and yet, also a sign of even greater things to come.
What Could Have Been Improved In Roma
There are few things in this movie that aren’t already flawless. The one I have the biggest problem with is the supporting characters. Cleo gets a lot of development and is great. Fermin and Sofia get development as well but after that, I just didn’t see much from the others. The kids, Antonio, Teresa, and Adela did not get any sort of reaction or connection out of me
The movie dragged a little for me as well. It’s a slow-moving film, being very particular in how it paces. If you love action movies like me, this film could get boring at times. I’m willing to chalk this up to a fault of my taste in movies, and less about Roma itself.
I am very glad to have seen this movie, as it normally wouldn’t have been something I watched. A very serious drama movie in a foreign language probably isn’t something most of us would watch. But I’m here to tell you this movie is worth the watch. Forget about how good it is, the cultural experience is enough to warrant watching it. I hope you enjoyed this movie and if you did, take a look at the rest of Alfonso Cuaron’s Career. This is not his first great movie and it definitely won’t be his last.
Overall Score 5/5