Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Roma (a movie review post)

I'm not even sure where to begin talking about this movie. It's one of those movies that seems meaningful, yet it is unclear what that meaning is. It is tragic and, yet, ends full of hope. It's black and white, so it must be important.
Okay, so that last bit is kind of a joke and, yet, not quite. I'm not sure this movie would have worked in color.

What I can say for sure is that Alfonso Cuaron is a writer that I like. At least, he is based on the movies I've seen by him. I loved Gravity (and there is a great in-joke in Roma about Gravity). The Best Director Oscar was very deserved (and I still feel like Sandra Bullock got robbed of Best Actress for that movie (and, no, I didn't see Blue Jasmine, so I don't know if Blanchett deserved the award or not)). Children of Men was also really good. Cuaron writes complex stories that don't always have clear meanings, and I can support that. A story should be engaging and leave the audience thinking. My wife and I have continued to bring Roma up in the weeks since we watched it.

There are really three levels to the movie... Well, there are three levels to the movie that I'm seeing. Maybe there are more, and I'm just missing them.

There's the level of the movie that deals with Cleo and what it's like to be a house servant, one of the lowest people in society. The movie opens with her cleaning up dog shit, which is, of course, a metaphor for her place in society.

Then, there is the family she works for and the lives they live. He's a rich doctor and his wife used to be a biochemist but, of course, she no longer needs to work so doesn't. The contrast between Cleo and the family is, frankly, astounding. The family lives in a huge house which Cleo is constantly cleaning, especially picking up after the children, while Cleo lives in a small room which she shares with the other servant.

All of this against the backdrop of society in general. The movie is set against the drama of a student protest movement that was going on in the early 70s and lead to... well, that would be telling.

On the surface, it seems like a "boring" movie, but it's actually quite fascinating.

Yalitza Aparicio, in her debut, is quite good as Cleo. And Marina de Tavira, as the woman of the household, is good opposite her. The weight of the film rests on the two of them, and they carry it admirably.

It's a good movie. I say that with the full knowledge that the fact that it's in black and white will put many people off of it right from the start, compounded with the fact that it's a personal drama and fairly slow moving most of the time. But for those of you who can sit through it, it's well worth the watch.


  1. I've seen the poster for this and it has always intrigued me. Not enough to look up a review, but I'm glad I stumbled upon yours. So now I'm gonna go and check it out. I like slow-moving films and it feels right to embrace something like that right now.

  2. I read nothing but good things for this movie. Of course, black & white doesn't bother me--I love old movies so I can get past that.

  3. It did sound interesting to me. I hope it comes out on Netflix.

    1. Jeanne: It's a Netflix movie. They produced it. That's where I watched it.