"Family Is Strength"
What You Need To Know:
For the typical moviegoer, it must be stressed that ROMA is a slow-moving, foreign language, arthouse flick. With black and white cinematography, no soundtrack, and no recognizable faces, Cuarón strips away everything flashy. The result is a very human story of family, love, grief, and guilt. ROMA does have some strong foul language and an extended scene of full-frontal male nudity. So, extreme caution is advised.
ROMA is a touching drama from Alfonso Cuarón (GRAVITY, CHILDREN OF MEN) about a family in 1970s Mexico City. Created as a tribute of sorts to Cuarón’s childhood in Mexico, ROMA is a stripped-down narrative of one maid’s viewpoint. Cleo, a young girl, works for Sofia and Antonio, helping them clean, cook and take care of their four children, all of whom adore Cleo, who treats the children as if they’re her own. Antonio is a doctor, who is always traveling.
Cleo begins dating a young man who’s the cousin of another maid’s boyfriend. At first it seems like the young man, Fermin, is kind, but after becoming sexually active and getting pregnant, Fermin disappears. Clearly terrified at the prospect of being pregnant, Cleo tells her employer Sofia, who then takes her to the doctor to make sure she’s healthy. Meanwhile, Sofia becomes aware that her husband Antonio is leaving the family to run off with a mistress.
As the movie progresses and Cleo becomes more and more pregnant, the cultural and political backdrop in Mexico increases. Multiple individuals reference the government seizing private property. In one very tense moment, a protest breaks into a riot right in front of a baby store where Cleo’s shopping for cribs.
For the typical moviegoer, it must has to be stressed that ROMA is a slow-moving, foreign language arthouse flick. With black and white cinematography, no soundtrack, and no recognizable faces, Cuarón strips away everything flashy. The result is a very human story of family, love, grief, and guilt, with a light criticism of social classism. Cuarón’s most incredible feat is his direction of actors like Yalitza Aparicio, who portrays Cleo, and who had never acted before this movie. His ability to guide these inexperienced screen actors through long takes, tackling complex emotions on cue is truly remarkable. In addition to serving as the writer, director and producer, Cuarón also served as the cinematographer and co-editor on ROMA, giving him complete control to deliver stunning visuals.
Multiple moments in ROMA grab at the heartstrings, but other scenes are just too long and sometimes even pretentious. This is not unlike many European arthouse movies which influenced ROMA.
The movie’s worldview is primarily moral, with a strong celebration of familial and motherly love, and a scathing critique of men who abandon their families to pursue their own lusts and selfish desires. While there’s clearly political unrest happening in the backdrop of the story, the movie never delves into it. ROMA has some strong foul language and an extended scene of full frontal male nudity. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.