It's hard for me to put into words exactly what Roma does as an artistic piece of cinema. This is about a woman named Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), she works for a wealthy family, headed by Dr. Antonio (Fernando Grediaga) and his wife Sofia (Marina de Tavira). She lives in the back clubhouse, cleans after the dogs, washes the clothes, and takes care of the families four children, day and night. Her life is simple, she is a quiet person, humble, and beautiful, inside and out. When she goes on a double date with a friend, she is paired up with Fermin (Jorge Antonio Guerrero), and the two take an interest in one another. Sadly, Fermin is a man with his physical skills in sword fighting and his sexual pleasures only inhabit his mind. The two make love and Cleo becomes pregnant soon after. What follows is Cleo's journey, with her situation, and how cruel the world can be to those who care.
I could write for hours about how perfect the cinematography for Roma is, all of it shot directly by Cuaron, especially because I think it's some of the best ever. What I really want to talk about though, is how much this film moved me. Like many great films, what we get from Roma is the emotion of empathy. I felt extremely empathetic for Cleo, not just because she is our protagonist, but because there are so many Cleo's out in the world. This is a walk in her shoes, a view of someone deserving of our compassion. She is a quiet, humble person, that is abused by the systems in place. She receives little in return from those she cares for, and yet, her efforts are that of someone who lays it all on the line. When Fermin wants nothing to do with her and the pregnancy, I sensed no moment of weakness on her part, although I assumed her mind is racing with fear, but then we see Cleo in the next scene, waking up to take care of the children, to consistently provide.
The cinematography, the direction and screenplay, all were done by Alfonso Cuaron, who has said on record that this film was a personal work, from his own life experiences. I also think Cuaron is making an important argument for the pro-choice side of the aisle. Cleo's existence is not noticed by everyone around her, long tracking shots of her trekking to the bus, or one-take scenes reveal a chaotic Mexico City on the brink of revolution, with our lead in the middle of it all, sliding by like ghost. Do we care for the humans around us that are already born? Cleo takes care of the families children better than the mother and father, all while she cares for the unborn child inside her. Is she the right person to raise a child alone? Clearly she can love this child, but do we, as a society allow those who struggle day-to-day, the right opportunity to succeed at being a provider? It's not like she can just stop caring for the family she has been there for from the beginning. That's the core of Roma, a constant battle that women must fight with.
What's left to say about Roma has already been talked about and most-likely with more elegant words than my own. I just know that I felt extreme emotion watching this film. It's a beautiful tribute to women everywhere. A poetic, romantic, painful look at the sacrifices they make to provide. Yalitza Aparicio's performance is stellar, something that feels authentic, like a documentary, or a home video of someone we relate with. Cuaron's work is the pinnacle of his career, following up other great films, such as Children of Men or Gravity. Only this time, Cuaron is opening his heart. He is bracing against the waves, fighting to bring us pure cinema, and delivering the best movie of 2018. I hope audiences everywhere will take the journey and walk in Cleo's shoes.
Written by: Leo Brady
STARRING: YALITZA APARICIO; MARINA DE TAVIRA; NANCY GARCIA GARCIA
DIRECTED BY: ALFONSO CUARON
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)
Roma. It's (one of) the most beautiful film I've ever seen. There comes a time, where we experience a piece of cinema, and it feels like we are truly watching the greatness of what this art form can do to us. That time is now. That time is with Alfonso Cuaron's Roma. Shot in a crisp, luxurious black and white, transcending us to follow the life of a woman that cares for a family in Mexico City, and it touches our very soul with this human experience. This is a religious experience at the church of celluloid. Roma. Say it soft, and it's almost like praying. Roma...