“Roma” (2018)

If you stopped halfway into Roma on Netflix, go back to finish watching the movie. I get it. It got compelling at the 96 minute mark.

The movie is slow. “Slow as molasses” like my mama used to say. Slow like it used-to-take-forever-to-get-on-the-internet-in-the-early-1990s-because-we-only-had-dial-up-modems slow. If the movie was in English, I would have been doing chores while half-watching. Since it’s in Spanish and has subtitles, I had to pay attention. I’m glad I did. Even the slow building beginning is a piece of art. From minute 96 to the end, Roma is cinematic genius.

The movie premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in August 2018 and opened in theaters in November ahead of its Netflix debut in December. Roma has already earned multiple awards and nominations, including three Golden Globe awards, and Best Picture and Best Director at the British Academy Film Awards. Roma is also nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron.

Cleo surrounded by the family she serves. The moment leading up to this group hug is gold.
(Carlos Somonte / Netflix)

Roma tells the story of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), an indigenous Oaxacan live-in maid for a middle-class Mexican family in Mexico City. Cleo is particularly close to the four children. Their bond is key to the movie’s climactic ending. Roma is set in 1970 and 1971 against Mexico’s political strife. Political and domestic tensions rise together in this movie. There were moments where I couldn’t breathe.

Cleo struggles through an unplanned pregnancy at the same time her employer Senora Sofia (Marina de Tavira) is grieving the loss of her marriage to Senor Antonio (Fernando Grediaga). Protests against the government are also coming to a head. The movie comes to a crescendo while a pregnant Cleo and the children’s grandmother, Senora Teresa (Veronica Garcia), are crib shopping for Cleo’s baby. They are caught in the middle of an anti-government protest and have a gun pointed directly at them by the unlikeliest person.

Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) and Senora Teresa (Verónica García) walking amid student protesters in Roma. (Carlos Somonte / Netflix)

You don’t have to know anything about Mexican politics to understand the film. Watch the movie first, then go here to learn more: http://time.com/5478382/roma-movie-mexican-history/

This movie is director Alfonso Cuaron’s love letter to his childhood maid, Libo. I was happy to see a movie about an indigenous woman and it’s HER STORY told from HER point of view. Yalitza Aparicio is the first indigenous woman to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Actress (and this is her first acting role ever). I think Glenn Close will win that category, but Arparicio deserves her nomination. I know for sure this movie will at least win Best Director at the Academy Awards. It’s a beautiful film.

Nine out of Ten Mocha Angels.

Roma is rated “R” for graphic nudity, some disturbing images, and language.

Up next: My Oscar predictions. Who should win and who will win.

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