Written and directed by Alfonso Cuaron, the film features a slice of life, a year in the life of a middle-class family's maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s. Cuaron has said that this film is a tribute to the women in his life and “the elements that forged me.” With that obviously personal angle driving the production, “Roma” often plays out like a memory, but not in a gauzy, dreamlike way. Every choice has been carefully considered—that wide-angle approach allows for so much background detail. He filmed it himself and I loved the central anchoring of the camera which pans around the family home - each action carefully choreographed.
Filmed in black and white, the film opens with the image of water being splashed on a floor, like waves crashing across the terrazzo driveway which eventually shows reflections of the sky overhead and a passing plane, an image which neatly bookends the film.
The woman cleaning that driveway is Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a servant for a wealthy family in Mexico City in the ‘70s. Cleo is no mere maid, often feeling like she is a part of the family she serves more than an employee—although she is often reminded of the latter fact as well. She may go on trips with them and truly love the children, but she also gets admonished for leaving her light on too late at night as it wastes electricity. Cleo is a quiet young woman, eager to do a good job, and able to stay out of the way when controversy arrives within the family, especially with the distant, often-absent father.
Everything changes for Cleo after an affair with a cousin of her friend’s boyfriend results in a pregnancy. Cleo’s employers offer to help her with the pregnancy, taking her to the doctor and supporting her with whatever she needs, but the child’s father disappears, and Cleo looks worried about what her future holds. “Roma” spends roughly a year in the life of Cleo as she plans for motherhood, tries to support a family that is coming apart, and simply moves through a loud, changing world.
Simply put, I loved it. One could pause he film every five seconds and have a masterpiece photograph. Fans of films who like a story with a beginning, middle and end may be disappointed. As I mentioned, this is a slice of life, a year in the life of a family. We witness their highs and their lows. There is plenty of imagery in the film that others have written about. It's on Netflix right now and is a strong contender for Best Film Oscar and BAFTA..