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Roma: A magnificent emotional tale in monochrome

  • Published at 11:19 pm February 22nd, 2019
Scene from the film 'Roma'
Yalitza Aparicio, a leading campaigner for indigenous rights, plays Cleo Gutierrez, a portrayal for which she received nomination for Best Actress in 2019 Oscars | IMDB

Cuarón not only wrote, produced, and directed the film, he shot it too. He also jointly edited it with Adam Gough

Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” is a reflection of his childhood through cinematic language. From the very first scene, the film plunges the audience into a beautiful world of visual narrative. 

The first scene shows a drive way being washed with soapy water; in the water we can see reflection of the sky and a plane. The simple yet complex scene represents the personal struggles of the protagonists of the film. 

Cuarón not only wrote, produced, and directed the film, he shot it too. He also jointly edited it with Adam Gough. 

Set in Mexico City in the 1970s, “Roma” depicts a family and is centred on their domestic worker- a maid and nanny named Cleo Gutiérrez, played by Yalitza Aparicio. In the course of the film, both Cleo and the family experience significant emotional turmoil. 

In many interviews, Cuarón has said Cleo’s character is based on a woman named Libo Rodríguez, who played a similar role in his childhood. The movie is dedicated to her. 

The production design of the film paints an authentic picture of Mexico in the 70s. Student protest, violence by police, references to land disputes, poisonings and even killings- everything that was going on in Mexico at that time has been depicted in this personal story. 

The director makes extensive use of symbolism throughout the film. For instance, there is a moment similar to the spilling of the wine at the wedding in “The Deer Hunter,” in which Cleo unintentionally brings bad luck upon herself. When her mother completely ignores the incident, it shows how superstition and religion have a minimal place in their lives.  

Combinations of close-ups and wide shots in the film serve to enhance its visual poetry, with extreme close-ups used to portray tension and the emotional state of the main characters. The film also stands out for amazing cinematography and story-line.

The long delivery scene in the hospital was only shot once, with real doctors and nurses to make the scene feel more authentic.

The film is not only a piece of art; it is valuable in many aspects. Yalitza Aparicio has become leading campaigner for indigenous rights, and the film has opened new doors for them in the film industry as well. 

The amazing visual style of “Roma” has made it a deserving nominee for the Academy Award for Best Picture. I personally believe the Oscar should go to “Roma.” 

The film is streaming on Netflix, with a running time of 135 minutes.