Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma is everything everyone says it is. Gorgeous and formally flawless, the director’s precision and meticulous craft is unmatched, and his deep, personal connection to the story readily shines through. Yalitza Aparicio delivers a wonderful performance. The milieu is layered, thematically dense, and someone much smarter than I am will have a field day unpacking relationships between the lower class maid Cleo and the wealthy family she works for. (THIS ARTICLE examining how poor people’s stories, especially those of domestic workers, are always told from the perspective of the rich, with a special eye on current Latin American cinema, is a good place to begin.)
Roma is good, very good, and probably deserves all the awards it has and inevitably will continue to win. It’s all of these things, but it also left me absolutely cold. The few moments where the film almost embraces me, where I almost feel what so many others apparently feel, it pulls away too soon, too quickly to engage, in favor of one cinematic trick of another. In the end, from my perspective—that should go without saying, but someone is going to yell at me—Roma sacrifices emotion for form, to its detriment, and it kept me at arm’s length the entire time.