Ben Oliver

Banner image for Roma


Mountains are old, but they’re still green.
12 October 2019

Follows the life of Cleo, a housemaid in 1970-1 Mexico City. Notably her pregnancy, and the relationship between her and the family that employs her.

Roma is a beautiful and immersive love letter to the director’s childhood. The level of technical expertise and detail shown here cannot be understated, every frame looks the part.

And yet something doesn’t quite sit right with me. If this film is all about Cleo, why do we cut away so fast from the key moments in her life? Why is there such a focus on nailing endless long tracking shots rather than capturing any real pain or emotion? Why can’t I shake that feeling of unease whenever I see the ‘wealthy family is nice to the maid’ storyline?

I don’t see what Cuarón’s nostalgia for his childhood has to do with the story he wants to tell here, and his overbearing presence behind the camera is detrimental to the central idea of the film. Everything is so meticulous and attractive, it leaves Cleo in the dust.

Be in no doubt, Roma is an excellent piece of work, worthy of the praise it gets. Just don’t be surprised if like me you find it a bit cold, and its approach a bit off.

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