ROMA is a new and probably the very personal film created by the director from Mexica Alfonso Cuarón which can already be seen on Netflix. This is a black and white drama, painted with hundreds of sounds, at a slow pace, and a very real main character. You should watch it at least for the sake of beautiful shots, and to understand why Western film critics praise this tape.
After ROMA got an award of by Golden Globe, I finally bought it at Netflix, and now I can write a review.
The best film I've seen this year, last year, probably the year before that, and probably next year too. The kind of masterpiece most auteur filmmakers have seemingly forgot how to make these days. Incredibly powerful and dramatic. Nostalgic without being overly sentimental. Just as stunning on a technical level as Gravity was, without being nearly as showy. Simply flawless.
Two years ago, Alfonso Cuarón announced that he would be the creator of a film about a family living in Mexico City in the 1970s. Cuarón wrote the script, picked up the actors, acted as a producer and took the director's chair, For him, the production of the film ROMA (named after one of the Mexican regions) were the attempts to recreate the events that took place almost fifty years ago.
According to the director, ninety percent of the scenes presented in the film is based on his own memories. The episodes that inspired Alfonso are the observations of the woman who served in his house; the slow pace of life of wealthy people; the atmosphere of protests sweeping in Mexico.
The Short Story Of The Movie
The plot of the film ROMA tells the story of a middle-class family in which a young woman named Cleo lives and works. She, along with another servant, looks after the house, performs household tasks and spends time with the children of the married couple, Antonio and Sofia.
Once Antonio leaves for a business trip, after which Sofia becomes clear that her husband is not going to return to her or to the children. Chaotic, but the friendly life of the family goes its usual way, but Cleo notices the despair of the hostess.
In parallel with these events, Cleo also has a cause for concern, which will leave an imprint on her future.
Netflix film ROMA - Photo credit: twitter.com
The Content Of The Movie
In 2018, the film ROMA was ready. The first film from the days of Gravity (in fact, the exact opposite of this tape) found its distributor in the face of Netflix. The leadership of the Cannes Film Festival, which demanded that each movie should go to the big screen, did not like it. Alfonso Cuarón was on the side of Netflix, but he nevertheless made concessions - with his permission, ROMA was shown in several independent cinemas, and this was quite enough to take part in other film festivals.
For the first time, the drama ROMA was seen by visitors of the 75th Venice International Film Festival. There, Alfonso Cuarón got an award of the Golden Lion - the prize for the best film. And this is an excellent confirmation of the fact that ROMA was the most significant work of Alfonso during his long career in the film industry.
All this time he managed to shoot incredibly multi-genre films (including the road movie Y Tu Mamá También, the film adaptation of the book Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the above-mentioned space thriller Gravity). But it was ROMA that showed the real Alfonso Cuarón.
It is worth noting that the tape ROMA must be watched without interruption (which is quite difficult at home), listening to every rustle and examining the details of the rooms.
Those who want to get into the plot as soon as possible, will not like the slow pace of the film. You have to get used to it. For Alfonso Cuaron, the plot of this film is a collective image of knocking shoes, birds chirping, dogs barking, water pouring, and radio music. As soon as you enter into this atmosphere, the story itself gradually emerges - the events happen, and the feelings of the silent Cleo become clear.
During the first hour in the film, not so many plot twists actually occur, but further actions and experiences resonate with those who stay to watch ROMA. But no, this does not mean at all that viewer will watch boredom for 60 minutes.
Netflix film drama ROMA - Photo credit: sptimo7sello.blogspot.com
There is a point that the main characters do not discuss out loud - this is the scene with the dispersal of student demonstrators, of which Cleo becomes the accidental witness. Student protests against the government did occur in Mexico City in 1971 when some of the protesters were brutally shot. Cuarón considers it necessary to show this, and at the same time, using the example of Cleo, the director suggests that the life of people against the background of such events continued at the usual pace.
This pace is inherent in an ordinary person and is not familiar to typical Hollywood characters, who in one day have hundreds of events. This time, Alfonso Cuarón is not at all interested in superheroes, he wants to acquaint us with the life of a simple maidservant. The more the camera watches her and all that surrounds the girl, the more it seems that we are also somewhere nearby - sitting at the same table with the family, listening to the disputes of children.
Drama ROMA - Photo credit: imdb.com
The Roles Of The Movie
Cleo saves and cares for her four children, whom she loves as her own. The first part of the story is devoted primarily to Cleo's daily routine, housekeeping, work, and even personal life, consisting of a few hours of free time. Her life is small, and it is firmly fixed around Sofia's family and people in its orbit.
The difference between her and a wealthy family is obvious: starting with the color of the skin, ending in a social situation or even self-consciousness - a lonely Cleo, even in the most difficult situations of life, seems to sacrifice herself to others, and each obstacle she accepts with silent and stoic. The emotional limitations of Cleo (not restraint), are felt even when we enter the territory of her personal life.
The film is like a tribute to women in general – these invisible women are always there in the home, taking care of the children - Yalitza Aparicio
The protests of students are a catalyst for more and more violence. In the form of earthquakes and forest fires, chaos also falls into the lives of people who distance themselves from politics. Sofia has to face her husband's departure and the new status of single mothers, while Cleo finds that her barely established relationship with Fermín (Jorge Antonio Guerrero) has already brought pregnancy. The lives of two completely different women, due to similar circumstances, are approaching for a closer point.
Cleo is the soul of this land, which, in fact, sacrifices her child in the name of saving others.
Drama ROMA - Photo credit:twitter.com
Sofia (Marina de Tavira) still cherishes hope. Her husband, a respectable and handsome Dr. Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), impressively and solemnly enters under the sounds of Berlioz's Fantastic Symphony at the gate of the house on the impressive Ford Galaxy. The head of the family obviously cares about the family's integrity, and in the morning leaves for a business trip from which he is not going to return. His business trip is a new young girlfriend and a new carefree life, from which he writes deceitful cards for children.
When the eldest son meets his father with his girlfriend at the cinema, he will try to pretend not knowing them. When Antonio suddenly bumps into Cleo in the hospital, he will shower her with consoling chatter and, of course, run away from stress.
An abandoned wife — she understands this — angry damages the precious car that her husband so nurtured. And, having decided to finally strike him out of his life, she buys a new car.
It looks like the nature of a man is to show strength, and then run and betray, to hide his weakness from outsiders. In Rome, Cuarón took a huge step forward, finally turning away from the men and creating an epic to the glory of the women who had raised him.
Movie Review: ROMA - Photo credit: bustle.com
It seems that all the men of Rome are petty, cruel or cowardly, and the women are those who bear the burden of responsibility and perseverance in difficult circumstances.
However, the rhythm of everyday life is sometimes disrupted. The film of slow rhythm, long shots, and flawless choreography is experiencing two sharp dramas in the last part of the film that is falling like from the clear sky, which tears the supposed tranquility and shakes seemingly strong characters.
The Technical Side Of The Movie
Due to the wide panoramic frames, we get the impression of the presence in the black-and-white memories of the director. For Alfonso Cuarón, it was so important to show the picture with his own eyes that even the camera work he did himself.
Panoramas, a large number of details and sounds, atmosphere - Alfonso Cuaron as author's view to all of this get only praises from me. The decision about black and white technology connects the film with the past in a very extraordinary way.
Cleo sees more than an ordinary person can see: the saturation of the film with details, each of which seems genuine, is unique. And she hears differently: Cuarón so carefully recreated the sound of every street in Mexico City for his film and made it so rich in nuances that Dolby Atmos was surprised at the size of the sound files sent by him and at first didn’t even believe that it was not a mistake.
One Of The Best 2018 Movies ROMA - Photo credit: kinowar.com
But I did not like the monotony, long absence of events, and that the movie will be not shown on the big screens.
Let's not forget that Alfonso Cuarón was not only a director, but also a producer, screenwriter, photo director, and one of two editors. It is difficult to imagine a more literal definition of "author's film." He invited the viewer to explore even the smallest details of the landscape and the pedantically selected statistics in the background. Life happens continuously, on several levels at the same time.
The sound is used in the same way: the forests' sound, soaking soap on the first floor, screams of street snacks are as background music. All the technical components of Rome work together in coexistence and create an impression of the film as an exciting experience. ROMA is a fresco of life, not just life in Ciudad de Mexico in 1971.
The music and sounds do not need many words - you must hear it.
ROMA Press Conference; Alfonso Cuarón, Yalitza Aparicio & Marina de Tavira - Video credit: via Youtube.com
The Collective Work Of The Actors
The main character Cleo was performed by the debuting Yalitza Aparicio, who had not had any experience on the filming set before. Perhaps that is why Aparicio manages to stay real and touching in her own way, evoking sympathy for her character. Cleo pronounced quite a few replicas, the girl's thoughts and experiences remain silent, but this is not an obstacle to understanding the character.
Yalitza Aparicio, the star of Netflix's film ROMA, says that stereotypes have been destroyed when her name appears among nominees for Oscar for the best female role. 25-year-old Aparicio, who has never been a professional actress, believes that she is possible to become an inspiration for other actors seeking their dream. Anyway, Yalitza Aparicio is the heart and soul of ROMA film.
The director told how he took Nancy Garcia Garcia, the actress for the role of the second maid in the house, Adela, without casting, just because she was Aparicio's friend from the same village. But it seems that all the rest of the actors, adults, and children, are here because of her.
One of the best movies of 2018, ROMA - Photo credit: imdb.com
On The Final Note
ROMA is like an album with black and white photographs. Someone interested in beautifully captured footage, and with them - the story of an alien to us family. At the heart of this story is a huge injury through which Cleo must break through. At the same time, the turning point is the best proof that the ROMA is not just historical or social drama, but a humanistic passion for the love of man and his heartache.
ROMA is a story about the big shocks of small lives, a story about self-sacrifice and the unexpected fate of women who are forced to give up almost everything to raise foreign children.
Each scene reminds us that whatever changes would happen, whatever the social constructs would be, whatever personal and political abyss would turn out, ROMA basically talks about the only thing worth talking - humanity. Not a loudly proclaimed but daily concern for someone who connects people. Families, communities, states.
ROMA is an incredibly personal and intimate story, and that is a greatest its strength. ROMA is like a window to another, not fancy, but personally lived time. The bright and close time, as a reminiscent of memory, which with every return, begins to look more and more expensive.
Marina de Tavira, Alfonso Cuaron, Nancy Garcia, and Yalitza Aparicio at an event for ROMA - Photo credit: imdb.com
Life, like sea waves, even in the deepest suffering has a spark of hope and perseverance.
The only reason you make a movie is not to make or set out to do a good or a bad movie, it's just to see what you learn for the next one. - Alfonso Cuaron
My rating: 9.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 96/ 100
Critics average: 8.3/10
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