Roma – LFF Review: “An Astonishing Cinematic Achievement”

Other | Sunday 4th November 2018 | Francesco

We had the chance to watch one of the most anticipating movies of the season at this year’s London Film Festival: Alfonso Cuarón’s 'Roma'.

The latest movie from Cuarón, it focuses on the story of a maid, Cleo and the family she works for. Following a year in the lifetime of a middle-class family in Mexico City. Roma is the name of a borough inside the city.

The film explores the struggles, the ordinary everyday surprises, as well as the unexpected outcomes of a group of contrasting characters that share not only the same house, but also the same destiny. They are all immersed and subject to a political climate that is, quite frankly, rather scary and continually changing, one day at a time. Although it is a long movie, you can literally feel the progress of the story on your skin: in a voyeuristic way, you spy on Cleo’s supposedly mundane daily life.

I am a faithful follower of Cuarón’s cinematic works and Roma will looks like it could be the pinnacle of his career: there is much heart and soul in this movie. The portrayal of each and every breath of these characters is engrossingly effective giving it a feel that's so real, human and emotionally driven. My experience as a viewer doesn’t often include overwhelming emotional breakdowns. Without giving away any spoiler, there are two or three moments in the film which only the coldest of hearts could possibly feel indifferent to.

If a gripping and tear-jerking is not your usual cup of tea, the work behind the camera may do the trick as it is simply astonishing. I will summarize my hymn to Cuarón’s mastery in three points: Supreme cinematography, visionary direction, and sublime choice of scenic design.

The black-and-white aesthetic of Roma is breathless: each scene is a sumptous work of art. It’s a visually stunning voyage that not only depicts household scenery in bold brilliance, but also deals with the challenging portrayal of rebellions in the middle of the city or countryside environments. Mexico City and its famed narrow alleys becomes an active element inside the narration, helping to make for  a story full of symbols like the water that washes away Cleo’s thoughts, the consuimng working life that has trapped her, and all that threatens Cleo’s sparkle of happiness. 

With Cuarón, everything is the right place. There is no space for over-the-top moments. In its marvelous realization, Roma remains a powerful personal story. In a classist and unequal society, it’s Yalizta Aparicio’s Cleo that is your emotional compass, a compass you will blindly follow from the first minute to the very end.  

Roma will be available worldwide on Netflix from December 14th, with the internet viewing giant also very surprisingly giving the movie a cinematic release at the end of November.

Have a look at the trailer below: