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Review: 'Roma' brings Alfonso Cuaron at the top of his game

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Throughout the course of Alfonso Cuaron’s filmography, the recurring theme of birth has been constant, be it indirectly and directly. ‘Children of Men’ posits the notion of what might happen if the world produce the last baby on Earth; ‘Gravity’ ends an astronaut learning how to walk her way again, like a child struggling to make the first steps; and ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’ lays the ground of the development of a new form of Mexico, personified in the dynamics of two sex-crazed teenagers.

His latest film ‘Roma’ presents the idea of birth as something familial. It fittingly opens with a long still shot of a floor getting washed by soap and water. We never see who is cleaning, but only a reflection of the sky passed by an airplane. When we actually do see her, the maid Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), the approach makes a lot of sense as a motif for its groundedness. 

Cleo’s relationship with the family of her employer feels genuine. She would often join and play with the kids, or never bothered to watch a film with them. However, we do feel a certain distance between the two parties. Cleo seems concerned on where to fit herself in. When a suitor impregnated her and leave her for abruptly, the family slowly start to accept her more and more, birthing a new form of love and acceptance she might not expect in the first place given the nature of her job. 

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‘Roma’ could easily be interpreted as a love letter to the willful women in general, but it is obvious that this is a deeply personal project for Cuaron. Doing multiple duties as director, producer, writer, editor, and cinematographer, you can really feel the ownership and free-spiritedness of Cuaron over this movie. According to him, 90% of the movie are completely taken out of a photographic memory he had throughout his life, and it really shows. 

It’s this complete creative freedom that makes ‘Roma’ works so well, and bringing Alfonso Cuaron at the top of his game. This is him at his most relaxed, and probably at his most sincere. While a wider big-screen release is great, distributing it on the digital streaming platform Netflix couldn’t be better. It’s a story that is best shared and be experienced with the biggest reach possible, even more through intimate means such as television. 

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A great film transcends regardless of where we see it. Give this one a try, it’s now streaming on Netflix!





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