Monday, January 28, 2019

Roma (2018) - Review

Alfonso Cuaron wrote, produced, directed, shot, and edited the story of his family's live-in maid from his childhood. This semi-autobiography compares and contrasts the lives of people from different social classes in early 1970's Mexico City.

Roma is a very slow film. The first hour and a half of the 135 minute runtime goes at a snail's pace. It shows the day-to-day routines of a working class maid and the upper middle class family (or as the Mexican call them, the rubios) that she works for. Shopping, eating, cleaning, children playing, adults driving and going to work are activities that are too boring for a youtube vlog, let alone a cinematic experience...

The lives of these two groups hit road bumps around the same time (in the last hour of the movie), and it shows that life is not easy, regardless of social class. The problems are of course different, but as Kurt Cobain once said: "nobody dies a virgin ... life f**** us all".

I would have quitted the movie many times over, but soldiered on only because it had received 10 Oscar nominations! I acknowledge that the movie was beautifully shot. The same still frames would have looked amazing at a museum though. I also enjoyed how Cuaron compared and contrasted the lives and problems of the two classes, but the same comparison could have been done in a two-page article.

I have a hard time giving a score to Roma. As mentioned, it is slow (particularly in the first hour and a half), and the beautiful shots and social commentary could have been presented elsewhere to greater effect. But having forced myself to watch till the end, I respect the director and actors (particularly, Yulitza Aparicio who truly deserves her Oscar nomination based on some of her scenes in the last hour of the film). This is one of those situations where you enjoy the destination despite the boring and steep journey. Of course, that is what life is, but I prefer to escape from the daily challenges when I'm watching a movie.

Some filmmakers called it the best movie of the year or decade, but to me, it was a 7/10 at best.

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