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Roma ★★★★★

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Released: 2018

Directed By: Alfonso Cuaron

Starring: Yalitza Aparcio, Marina De Tavira

Reviewed By: Dion Wyn

Most Academy Award winning directors would normally go on and create epic scale films of their wildest dreams. Simply this is not what Alfonso Cuarón had in mind with Roma. The Gravity director has premiered his 8th feature film on the Lido with a very simple story, chronicling a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s. Cuarón wanted to pay homage to his youth growing up in Mexico City, it is also his first film in Spanish since the brilliant Y Tu Mamá También (2002). Roma is the first Netflix film to be released at Venice this year. Once a hot contender for Cannes, Venice has clearly benefited from this.

Roma is nothing but a pure emotional tearjerker; Cuarón has created a tale of two women who become stronger together during a torrid year in their lives. In both cases, it is men that have shaken the foundations of home life, and Cleo (Aparcio) and Sofia (De Tavira) must maintain stability in the life of the house and cope with a multitude of changes. Roma seems to be a mass homage to Yasujirō Ozu, as it is the household serving as the epicentre of our tale. The house breathes life to the family, from the dog-fouled garage to Cleo’s maid’s quarters. But within this smoothly flowing household we see small clues of sorrow unfolding. Cuarón takes his time showing us what is unfolding in Roma. He abstains from using close-up shots to express the true emotions of the characters, you are guessing what will come next and most of the time you are hoping for a happy resolution. Cuarón shot Roma with great finesse, the black and white setting is remarkable.

From his long takes to his beautifully absorbing tracking shots, you feel the blood coursing through the heart of Roma. Cuarón distorts your mind with a sensory assault, with brutal imagery layered on top of this your television may not have the same effect as it did on the big screen. These set pieces that test our heroines are painful to watch and the reality of 1970’s Mexico hits you like a freight train. One scene will have the audience with a lump in their throats, and your eyes will not believe what you have witnessed. The two leading actresses Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira give a subtle yet powerful performances. Their body language always tells you something you may not know, but their dialogue disguises it in plain site of the children. Their performances resonate with me personally, my mother came into my mind a lot through out the film. She has had great pain and tragedy in her life but she was always there for my family. Roma is a true homage to women and Alfonso Cuarón’s strongest film.

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