Alfonso Cuarón, who’s made films on diverse genres – saucy sex comedies (Y Tu Mama Tambien), grim sci-fi dramas (Children of Men), extravagant space thrillers (Gravity), etc., had followed similar paths as his famous compadres Del Toro and Iñárritu, who’d started fabulously in Mexico before being lured by Hollywood. Hence it was quite delightful to see him go back to his point of origin – as a filmmaker and as a person – in the ravishingly beautiful and deeply personal semi-autobiographical film Roma. Shot with exquisite finesse in visually spellbinding monochrome, the Golden Lion-winning movie takes us back to the filmmaker’s memories of growing up in the Colonia Roma neighbourhood in Mexico City during the politically turbulent early-1970s, and paints a heartwarming love-letter to the housemaid who took care of him and his siblings during their childhood. The film’s central protagonist is Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a soft-spoken and gentle-natured maid, who, apart from her domestic responsibilities, also takes care of the 4 boisterous kids of Sofia (Marina de Tavira), who’s on severe psychological stress on account of her crumbling marriage. Cleo’s mundane existence, however, faces a jolt when she becomes pregnant, but her fiancé doesn’t just run out on her, he might even be training as a member of Los Halcones (The Falcons), a notorious paramilitary group tasked with the job of repressing protests and demonstrations. The bloody Corpus Christi massacre – a dark episode in the country’s recent past which occurred during the Mexican Dirty War – breathtakingly captured in perhaps the movie’s most memorable set-piece – provided a terrific counterpoint to the storyline’s muted domesticity. Spectacular long-takes through gently roving cameras, lack of non-diagetic sounds and naturalistic acting added undeniable technical virtuosity to this observant, meditative, quietly affecting and atypical Cuarón gem.
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Genre: Semi-Autobiographical Drama/Family Drama