Cleodegaria “Cleo” Gutiérrez (Yalitza Aparicio) is one of two domestic workers who help Antonio (Fernando Grediaga) and Sofía (Marina de Tavira) take care of their four children in 1970s Mexico City. Complications soon arise when Antonio suddenly runs away with his mistress and Cleo finds out that she’s pregnant. When Sofía decides to take the kids on vacation, she invites Cleo for a much-needed getaway to clear her mind and bond with the family.
Roma is a movie that comes along once in a blue moon. A movie so quiet and peaceful yet also so haunting and powerfully real and grounded, it makes you want to watch it over and over again, looking for new things to adore and appreciate about it. It’s a film that has a lot to say, and says it almost effortlessly.
Shot entirely in black and white by director Alfonso Cuarón (who also wrote, produced, and edited the film), it is additionally a remarkable technical achievement on every level. It is not simply because the film is presented to us in a color palette that we are not as used to in this day and age, it is because every single shot is framed so beautifully. Almost every shot has something interesting and thought-provoking in it. There are plenty of absolutely gorgeous wide shots and close-ups that look stunning.
The story, written by Cuarón, is one that was emotionally riveting. At first, I was not too sure what was going on in Roma. It seemed like a simple enough film that did not quite find its footing yet. But once fifteen or twenty minutes go by, you get sucked in to the story greatly. It’s a story about family and love at its core, and once you see where things are going and where they ultimately end up, it is bound to get at least one tear out of you.
It is also remarkably acted, especially by Yalitza Aparicio, who seems to be breaking through into the mainstream eye, which is great, because her work here is some of the best of the entire year. It is not as strong a performance as this year’s performance from Toni Collette in Hereditary, but comparing a slow-burning drama to a horror film really would not be all that fair. I hope that Aparicio gets a lot more recognition and a lot more acting roles in the future, because with Roma, she has proven herself as a force to be reckoned with.
Roma finds beauty in the quiet moments of life, and tells a remarkably emotional and impactful story of family and love.
Overall Grade: A
MPAA Rating: R for graphic nudity, some disturbing images, and language
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Distributed by: Netflix (United States)
Release Date: November 21, 2018 (United States)
Running Time: 135 minutes