19th Dec2018

‘Roma’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Nancy García García, Verónica García, Andy Cortes, Fernando Grediaga, Jorge Antonio Guerrero, José Manuel Guerrero Mendoza | Written and Directed by Alfonso Cuaron

roma-poster

It physically pains me to report that Alfonso Cuaron’s long anticipated follow up to his 2013 critically acclaimed masterpiece Gravity is, unfortunately, a flat and ever prolonged emotional dud. A one-hundred and thirty-minute passionate project that’s based on Cuaron’s own childhood, Roma follows a family and their maid that slowly but surely unfolds its flush hand in a sad manner of a placid, albeit weighted emotional substance that fleets in such an elongated and weak fashion.

Roma begins in a beautifully intoxicating fashion via outrageously beautiful visuals that are executed throughout in astounding monochrome from director ,and first time credited cinematographer, Alfonso Cuaron. Primarily enforcing slow pans that encapsulate the broader scale and intimacy of the subjects lives, as well as villainous hinderance of privilege. The visual element is the strongest aspect of a film that sadly fails to truly capture the emotional intensity and hefty weight of life on the shoulders upon ordinary people. The photography on hand here is nothing short of exceptional. Every scene and sequence provokes such an audacious charm and elegance. Never boarding on meretricious talent or self-indulgent pompous bravado.

A hollow and void emotional core is quite surprising in that Cuaron’s early work of Y Tu Mamá También in 2001 and Sólo con tu Pareja (Only with Your Partner) in 1991 establishes his elegance of depicting fractious human life in superly endearing and compelling narratives. Made more the upsetting when Cuaron has stated this has been almost thirty years in the works since the early ’90s of which his debut was introduced to the world. Roma has threads of such – a simplified and humanised arc of loyalty and betrayal, yet such themes and thematic animosity are crafted in a manner of conventional and bland substance. Taking almost an hour to craft itself into an inviting direction, soaking up all or any emotional investment into an ever-growing story that prolongs any emotional investment to the point of falling into the trap of tonal and conceptual self-sabotage.

A staunch opinon to state when Cuaron’s film is gaining significant traction in the awards circuit and Roma has, at its core, a deeply affectionate tale bursting with life that never has a spark to ignite such fulsome compelling drama. Never erupting, even in terms of stoic hostility, and underneath agitation of relationships. A complaint of a limpid screenplay also somewhat effects the largely impressive performances. The former doesn’t hold much weight nor really engage. It’s largely through Cuaron’s visual medium where the story occupies evolution and metaphor, superbly so in fact, in how it encaptures its audience in complete and utter devotion entailing baleful arrestment to a story that doesn’t keep its end of the bargain and fails to occupy a significant thematic effulgent.

The latter, after its delicious cinematography, is arguably Roma‘s most impactful and munificent component. Leading actress Yalitza Aparicio, playing Cleo, perfectly personifies a deeply layered and fastidious emotional torment that is bubbling below the surface. The authentic nature of a human being dealing with human issues is presented rather beautifully. You can almost read her thoughts, therefore understand her predicament and pain in the fallout that surrounds her. However, the screenplay does not give Aparicio the tension to work with and without such a performance, the film completely fails in its conviction to convey a tense atmospheric or incendiary thread.

Roma is available to watch on Netflix now.

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