Roma is a drama written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also produced, co-edited and shot the film. Roma is also a co-production of Mexico and the United States. Set in 1970 and 1971, the film is a semi-autobiographical take on Cuarón’s upbringing in Mexico City, and follows the life of a live-in housekeeper to a middle-class family. The title refers to Colonia Roma, a neighborhood in the city. Roma also won two Golden Globes for Best Director and Best Foreign Language Film at the 76th Golden Globe Awards, and four Critics’ Choice Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture at the 24th Critics’ Choice Awards; it also received seven nominations at the 72nd British Academy Film Awards. There’s has been lots of hoopla regarding Roma. I decided to see it based on it’s nominations and potential to be Oscar nodded. Good story but extremely slow and not for everyone.
Filmed in black and white with English subtitles, Roma is set in 1970 and opens with endless water being poured over a marble floor. Cleodegaria “Cleo” Gutierrez (Yalitza Aparicio) who is a maid in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City works in the household of Sofia (Marina de Tavira) and is the one cleaning the entrance way, using a bucket and a broom. In addition to Sofia and Cleo, Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), who is Sofia’s husband and their four young children, Sofia’s mother Teresa (Veronica Garcia), and another maid, Adela (Nancy Garcia) live in the spacious house. Antonio, a doctor, leaves for a job conference in Quebec, Canada. Scenes that showed Cleo’s life with the family includes her cleaning, cooking, taking the kids to and from school, serving them meals, putting the kids to bed and waking them up, gives us an idea of the responsibilities Cleo is expected to do on a daily basis. It also becomes clear that Sofia and Antonio’s marriage is strained. After a brief return, Antonio leaves again, saying he is going back to Quebec for a few weeks to further work on his research.
Taking advantage of some time off, Cleo and Adela go out with their boyfriends, Fermín (Jorge Antonio Guerrero) and Ramón (Jose Manuel Guerrero Mendoza), to the theater. At the entrance, Cleo and Fermín decide to rent a room instead of seeing the movie. A very naked Fermín shows off his martial arts skill using the shower curtain rod as a pole. While on another date, both couples meet in a movie theater, where Cleo tells Fermín that she thinks she is pregnant. As the movie (La Grande Vadrouille) is about to end, Fermín says he is going to the bathroom and ask Cleo if she wanted some ice cream, but then does not return and is nowhere to be found. Cleo reveals the same concern to Sofia, who takes her to get checked at the hospital where Antonio works. The doctor there confirms Cleo’s pregnancy.
Sofia takes Cleo, Adela and her children to a family friend’s hacienda to celebrate New Year’s. Both the landowners and the workers mention recent tensions over land in the area. During the celebrations, a fire erupts in the forest. Everyone helps put out the fire as a man counts down the remaining seconds of 1970. Back in the city, Cleo accompanies the children and their grandmother to a movie theater to watch Marooned. As they are entering, Antonio is seen rushing out with a young woman. Sofia tries to hide Antonio’s departure from the children, but her second son learns of it by eavesdropping in on a phone conversation. She asks him to not tell his other siblings who believe their father is still away on business in Canada.
As it turns out, Roma is basically about Cleo. While the story is told tenderly, it is slow and perhaps somewhat boring to some. It you stick with it, you’ll find some extremely interesting moments. Overall, the story is worth sharing and I’ve left it at a point where there are many loose ends/questions that you will have to get the answers to by actually seeing the movie. The good news is it’s on Netflix and easily accessible if you subscribe. I don’t see 10 nominations but that is just my opinion. Things turn out or not just the way they should. Check it Out!
[Roma is Oscar nominated for BEST; Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress, Director, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Best Foreign-Language Film]