Eventually I’ll see another film with a really strong story to tell but in the meantime I’ll keep going to see gorgeously shot films with something missing.
That is, films like Roma. Is it beautiful? Yes, it’s beautiful. And, yes, I was immersed in a world I knew nothing of – that of a well-off family and their servants in Mexico City in the 1970s. But the film – all 2h 15m of it – is a deep recreation of one person’s past and the camera lingers and caresses this replica of the writer/director’s childhood. I wish the story was more compelling and central and think it would be but for all the long slow pans over a world remade in minute details. It’s as if the director is saying, “Look, these were the toys we had. These were the magazines we read. The movies we saw. Look at how perfectly I’ve recreated these memories.”
Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, I’m glad I saw it in the cinema rather than on Netflix. But, no, I didn’t love it.
I thought this Variety review did a nice job summing up the shortcomings of Roma.
Synopsis from Dendy Cinemas
In 1970s Mexico City, two domestic workers help a mother of four while her husband is away for an extended period of time.
The most personal project to date from director and writer Alfonso Cuarón, ROMA chronicles a turbulent year in the lives of a middle-class family in 1970s Mexico City. Cuarón, inspired by the women from his childhood, delivers an artful ode to the matriarchy that shaped his world. A vivid portrayal of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil, ROMA follows a young domestic worker Cleo from Mixteco heritage descent and her co-worker Adela, also Mixteca, who work for a small family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma.
Mother of four, Sofia, copes with the extended absence of her husband, Cleo faces her own devastating news that threatens to distract her from caring for Sofia’s children, whom she loves as her own. While trying to construct a new sense of love and solidarity in a context of a social hierarchy where class and race are perversely intertwined, Cleo and Sofia quietly wrestle with changes infiltrating the family home in a country facing confrontation between a government-backed militia and student demonstrators.
Filmed in luminous black and white, ROMA is an intimate, gut-wrenching and ultimately life-affirming portrait of the ways, small and large, one family maintains its balance in a time of personal, social and political strife.
Seen at Dendy Newtown on 25 January 2019