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  • 2018
  • R
  • 135min
  • 95%
  • 8 / 10

Roma is a semi-autobiographical film detailing the life of a housekeeper living with a middle-class family, as she works for them in Mexico City during the early 1970s.

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Alfonso Cuarón has had an astonishing filmmaking career. His directorial debut film, Solo Con Tu Pareja which he co-wrote with his brother, won them a silver Ariel award for Best Original Story. His breakout film in American cinema was an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess, which earned him two Oscar nominations. He is also noted as a visionary director on one of the Harry Potter films, Chamber of Secrets, forever changing the tone and direction of the franchise. His next film, Children of Men, an adaptation from P.D. James’s novel, won two BAFTAs for Best Cinematography and Best Production Design. The Sandra Bullock science fiction thriller, Gravity, broke records for receiving the greatest number of nominations for the 2014 Academy Awards and BAFTA.

His new film, Roma, did not fail to bring awards and nominations for the Mexico-born director. A confessed cineaste, Cuarón relies heavily upon the intimacy of his filmmaking, producing personal films that reflect his journey.

His first Mexican film, Y Tu Mama Tambien, was a semi-autobiographical drama about a road trip and the transition from teenage to young adulthood. Gravity, although falling in the science fiction genre, was fraught with personal metaphors – Sandra Bullock tethered but floating in space was a portrayal of Cuarón’s feelings regarding his filmmaking career.

Roma movie review

Sometimes we forget that films’ artistry doesn’t lie with the actor’s performances of a well-written script. The film employs so much method like set pieces, colors, and music – each adding its own performance of the story. Roma is a very visual medium, tediously underlining each inclusion in the shot – a tree, the snapping of a twig, a light being turned off. These countless considerations propel Alfonso Cuaron’s semi-autobiographical film, Roma, into a colorful recount of his boyhood as a middle-class living in Mexico City during the 1970s. This is despite the fact that Cuaron shot the entire film in black and white.

Inspired by the life of their own family maid, Liboria “Libo” Rodriguez, Cuaron tells the story of a live-in housekeeper Cleo, who moves with the lives of a middle-class family as it breaks apart, and her own as she deals with a pregnancy from an absent partner. The melancholy of the events that revolve around Roma, a quaint neighborhood in Mexico City, is told through the writing, direction, and camerawork by Cuaron. The tragedy that is unfolding within the personal lives of Cuaron’s characters is set against the larger tragedies that concurrently unfolded alongside them.

Alfonso Cuaron’s film is not only his own personal account, but a play on memory. Majority of the film is a physical remembrance of times past for Cuaron. It’s an effective imagining of how we structure our memories. Cuaron also made the film devoid of any close-ups of the actors, decompressing the focused intensity of a moment and diffusing it all over the shot, in the details. The director filmed the story in sequence, hence the glacial pace, but the act of remembering is not a race – it is a slow stroke against the canvas, filling the white space with things and places until complete.


about the movie

Roma is the 2018 drama by award-winning director Alfonso Cuarón. The film was written, produced, shot, and co-edited by Cuarón. It follows the life of a live-in housekeeper working for a middle-class family, starring newcomer Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira.

Roma had its world premiere on August 30, 2018, at the 75th Venice International Film Festival where it won the prestigious Golden Lion award. It went on to have a limited theatrical release on November 21, 2018 and jumped onto the streaming platform Netflix on December 14, 2018. The film has garnered the most Oscar nominations to date, tying with The Favourite, as well as breaking ground as the most nominated film that is not in the English language.