Roma may just be Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece. A bold way to start any review, but ‘Roma’ is a bold film, and the praise being heaped upon it already is thoroughly deserved.
Cuarón’s love letter to his country and his childhood exhibits some of the most exquisite filmmaking from the Mexican director, and the decision to shoot in black and white results in some of the most beautiful shots in any film this year. Cuarón’s camera (he also did the cinematography) travels with the characters with beautiful fluidity, pausing delicately to provide an intimacy with them.
‘Roma’ is a film which transcends normal filmmaking. It is a film which more often than not, doesn’t even feel like you’re watching a film. It feels like watching a story unfold, a story that we are fully invested and involved in. Everything about ‘Roma’ feels real and authentic. It feels like we the audience are not voyeurs on these characters and events, but instead of watching from the outside, we are totally involved and present. This makes the emotions so tangible and involving, that when it is all over you are left feeling totally breathless. ‘Roma’ is an out-of-body experience, and one which you will never want to end.
Seen through the eyes of Cleo (Aparicio), ‘Roma’ is the story of a time and a place, of change and politics, of the divide between rich and poor, and whilst it explores all of these things, it never strays away from Cleo. Because of this, the film remains above all else a testament to motherhood and strong women. In places it is uplifting, and in others it is devastating, but it is consistently authentic, honest, and powerful.
The sound design isn’t perhaps the first thing people pick out in a film, but the sound of ‘Roma’ is absolutely incredible. It feels so immersive and so real, the sounds of the city happening around us, voices and noises coming from all directions causing you to study every inch of the screen. It is hard to describe, but ‘Roma’ does really need to be heard to be believed.
Visually striking, aurally immersive and emotionally captivating, ‘Roma’ is undoubtedly one of the finest films of the year and arguably Cuarón’s best film. It is certainly his most personal film, and the labour of love that this film represents permeates through every single frame. With exceptional performances, beautiful imagery, and the finest sound design in recent years, ‘Roma’ isn’t just a film which deserves to be seen on the big screen, it is one which deserves to be heard on the big screen. It bears repeating: ‘Roma’ is a masterpiece.
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Nancy García García, Verónica García