Film Review: "Roma" Shows Us Beauty In The Absence Of Color

I was first drawn to Roma after hearing that it had bagged many awards - just a simple Google search and you’ll get to see that the directory, artistry and even production efforts have been recognized. Roma was written, directed and co-edited by Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón, who is also known for his work in blockbusters like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Gravity. Cuarón’s nonclassical take on filmmaking has to be the driving force behind the beauty of this film. Inspired and (semi) based on his upbringing and youth in Roma, Mexico City, the film follows Cleodegaria "Cleo" Gutiérrez, a housekeeper in a middle-class family in the early 1970s, and her journey through love and heartbreak amidst political storm. Cleo has to deal with many other issues as well, one significant one being the strained relationship between the couple she worked for. It seems like loss, freedom and acceptance were the recurring themes throughout Cuarón’s masterpiece.

Genre: Drama
My Rating: 8.5/10

Symmetry plays an important role in the film. Roma consists of very precise and clear cuts between scenes. It has to be one of the most organized films I’ve watched. It does, however, increasingly focus less on the symmetry in the latter parts of the film to mirror the turmoil and unjust circumstances experienced by the characters. But even that in itself is artistry at its best. It also felt like the camera has a life of its own, sometimes even letting the viewer feel that she leads the characters instead of following them. We are then left to deductively decipher what is going to happen next, almost like we’re doing so in real time with the characters on screen; everything is so raw and genuine. The emphasis on the use of (mostly) diegetic sounds helps retain authenticity and allows us to feel like we are in their world, with their problems too.

I love when a film foreshadows latter events through little things shown throughout the movie - things that we have to pay attention and catch onto. Cuarón does just that. He allows everything to come full circle - whether it be as tiny as the way Cleo runs, or as big and obvious as the debris falling onto a baby in the hospital.

The lack of color forces us to focus on the story and its characters. The story is inspiring and may even allow us to explore and appreciate the intangible things we have in this life. It is almost a guarantee that viewers will feel emotional at some point in the film, so get your tissues ready if you do decide to watch it. Cinematography was on POINT throughout the film - especially the still camera movements (my favorite part).

My only “critique” would have to be that I felt that the film had too lengthy of a buildup. I say critique in quotes because although it can be considered a flaw, the length of the buildup did contribute to the overall narrative and in the most satisfying and symbolic way ever. Ironically, one can even argue that there was not even much of a story in terms of narrative content and plot, but I do believe films like Roma center around our emotional interpretation and because it can differ within us viewers, that is really what makes it unique. Could it have been more engaging? Perhaps. But If I could describe this film in one word - rare. Check out the trailer below, and you’ll see exactly what I’ve been referring to.