Beautifully tragic, surreal and optimistic are three perfect descriptors for the 2018 film “Roma.”
The Spanish-language film stars breakout actress Yalitza Aparicio who plays a young woman named Cleo, a maid to a wealthy family in Mexico in 1970. The movie shows the struggles that come with relationships and families and shows that being resilient in the face of heartache and hardship is difficult, but still possible.
Cleo and the wife of the family she worked for, played by Marina de Tavira, both have parallel struggles despite coming from very different worlds, which makes them form an unexpected subtle connection.
Netflix released “Roma” on Nov. 21 in select theaters and released the movie on the streaming platform Dec. 14.
The film was written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also directed “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Children of Men” and Oscar award-winner “Gravity.”
The plot of the movie was loosely based around Cuarón’s life growing up in a small Mexican borough of Mexico City named Roma and his indigenous Mixtec nanny who was like a second mother to him.
Cuarón’s directorial style is exceptionally beautiful. Though the camera work and framing is very simplistic and subtle, it speaks volumes. The movie is very minimal in all aspects; there is a black and white filter over the movie and there is no score in addition to the subdued camera work.
This all serves to make the audience focus on nothing else but the lives of these characters, creating a very immersive experience.
Cuarón is able to put the audience in the world of the family and maid by having long scenes that may not have much going on, but are able to convey strong emotion through their simplicity.
The slow 180-degree pans of the camera that show an entire setting, as well as long shots where the camera follows the characters through the busy city streets of Mexico, also put you in the world of Roma.
Cuarón perfectly ties in the political climate of Mexico in the early 70s with the struggles of Cleo and the family she works for.
The movie takes place against the backdrop of student protests against the Mexican government and the consequent massacre by a paramilitary group as well as an ongoing seizure of indigenous land by the government.
The inclusion of these events serves to further connect the two leading women to show that even outside of their own lives, their own communities are also facing turmoil.
“Roma” has made waves amongst critics and audiences, receiving multiple award wins and nominations. So far, “Roma” has won two Golden Globe awards, four Critic’s Choice Awards and has received one Oscar nomination and seven nominations at the British Academy Film Awards.
The movie has not only made an impact on awards season but on the culture of the very country on which it is based.
In Mexican movies, indigenous people are very underrepresented, so having Aparicio, who is of Mixtec descent, playing the main role in one of the biggest movies of 2018 is a very big deal.
The 25-year-old actress was the first Mixtec woman to appear on the cover of Vogue Mexico, and has also graced the cover of Vanity Fair during the promotion of the film.
Her presence in the popular media of Mexico has been met with racist backlash, but in an interview with The New York Times, she said her rise to fame could open doors to other indigenous people in the future.
“I’d be breaking the stereotype that because we’re Indigenous we can’t do certain things because of our skin color,” Aparicio said.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Gladi Suero is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.