ROMA REVIEW -
Once in a great while, I experience a film that I know will go on to become one of my all-time favorites. A film that doesn’t have a single misstep, that completely works in every way, that I couldn’t possibly love any more than I do. Roma is just such a film. Cuarón’s deeply personal film about a maid and the middle-class family she works for is every bit as inspirational and heartbreaking as I had heard and then some.
Cuarón is one of our finest directors, and creating a mood that made me think of Fellini’s best work, you can clearly tell how much he cares about this story from the attention to detail about the period setting to the love and respect given to the characters. He’s able to take very specific details about this family but still manages to make it feel universal for all so no matter who you are, you can find parts of yourself within this story. He also finds interesting ways to show just how different the maid named Cleo and her employer Sofia are in some basic ways, but by the end, we’re able to see just how similar they are in the long run particularly when it comes to the men in their lives.
The cast are all wonderful, but Yalitza Aparicio is the true star and gives one of the best debut performances of all time. In scene after scene, she manages to convey so much with just her eyes and facial expressions particularly in one heartbreaking scene that left me in tears where she says everything she needs to without saying a single word. I felt her pain, her love, her warmth, and it’s a truly exceptional performance unlike anything I’ve seen from another actress this year.
Cuarón’s camerawork is full of the long takes he’s known for, but they also show just how masterful of a storyteller he is such with as a scene where a melee breaks out in the street as we watch from a store window or a scene near the end that plays out in one take that had my heart pumping as much as any action scene I’ve seen this year. With one stunning image after another on display here, it’s always a delight to look at with some of the best cinematography of the year, but it’s the sound design that truly shines here.
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