Roma is an enthralling personal story from multi award winning director/writer Alfonso Cuaron, (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of men, Gravity) who also co-edited and photographed the film. It is a semi-autobiographical picture of domesticity and social hierarchy, looking at life in Mexico in the early 1970s.
It has already won awards at several film festivals and has been selected as the Mexican entry for Best Foreign Film in the 91stAcademy Awards.
Chloe (brilliantly acted by Yalitza Aparicio, a former teacher in her first acting role) lives with a middle class family of seven – the parents of four energetic school-aged kids and a grandmother (Veronica Garcia). She shares a room above the garage with her friend Adela (Nancy Garcia) another domestic worker. Both speak in their native Mixteco.
The house is full of life from dawn to dusk. Her daily tasks are cleaning, washing, cooking, waking the kids up, taking them to school, putting them to bed, and looking after a dog that keeps trying to escape the courtyard. She is stoic, dutifully humble and loves the family. She is the children’s surrogate parent.
The marriage between Sofia (Marina de Tavira, the only professional actor in the film) and her doctor husband Antonio (Fernando Grediaga) is strained and after many “business” absences he leaves home leaving the family to rebuild their lives together.
The environment of the home is set against the social change of the world outside. There is an unexpected pregnancy, an earthquake, parties and holidays, a forest fire, a near drowning in the ocean, and student demonstrations that led to a new era of clampdown by the Government.
Filmed in shades of black, white and grey in a large digital format it was shot in chronological order, the cast getting the script day by day and sharing a large part in the films dialogue, adding realism to their performances.
There is no musical sound track which gives emphasis to the complex sound mix and the production designer Eugeneio Caballero changed a house scheduled for demolition to a near duplicate of Cuaron’s home which was full of books, art and furniture lent by family members for the film.
Roma is the memory of the town where Cuaron grew up. The film is dedicated to Libo who raised him from nine months old.
Netflix acquired distribution rights in April 2018 and will stream the film from 14 December – but do yourself a favour, slow down and immerse yourself in a beautifully crafted film. See it in a theatre on a big screen. It’s well worth the effort.
Spoken in Spanish and Mixtec with English sub-titles.
Roma is part of the Cine Latino Film Festival at Cinema Paradiso in Northbridge. The Festival runs until 16 December.
Watch the trailer…