Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Fernando Grediaga, Jorge Entonio Guerrero
Run Time: 135 mins
One would have thought after having directed Gravity, director Alfonso Cuarón would tackle another behemoth of a project. Unconventionally, Cuarón has chosen to make this black-and-white Mexican drama that draws many personal parallels to his upbringing in Mexico City in the 1970s. Roma‘s story follows Yalitza Aparicio’s maid who works for a well-off family who cooks and cleans and is someone who the children regard as family. Yet, Mexico City is presented as a turbulent setting in this period with student protests and police violence part of the everyday norm.
Viewers may well get frustrated with this film as it takes a while for the story to get going but Roma succeeds more based on the feelings of intimacy it provokes and the relationships between all of the well-developed characters. Especially once the film reaches a climactic event about two thirds of the way through, it is a masterfully haunting, meditative piece and deeply emotional. As to be expected, Roma is consistently visually arresting. Cuarón’s first time as cinematographer is an unqualified success who uses deep depths of field within each frame which give the film a personal, dream-like quality. The performances by the cast all round are excellent with Aparicio brilliant in the leading role as the reserved yet maternal maid who Cuarón digs deeper into her psyche as the film progresses. Equally impressive in her performance is Marina de Tavira as the mother of the family, a character who goes through her own upsets, but has a true respect for her family and the maids.
Whilst it took a while for Roma to work its spell on me, when it did, I was utterly transfixed and resonated emotionally wih the film. I suspect on a second viewing, it’s a film that I could like even more when it begins to reveal its deeper meanings. It fully deserves all the Awards attention it is recieving and the film works both on a visual and narative level.