Roma is directed, written, and edited by Alfonso Cuarón, and stars Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, and Fernando Grediaga.
This film has been hailed as a masterpiece. “The best of the year,” they say, “of all time” they’re saying. I was so outrageously excited for this film, reading all of these reviews and discussions on how amazing this movie is. This film is the biggest disappointment of 2018.
Roma is an undeniably beautiful film, visually. Alfonso Cuarón serves as cinematographer on this project, as well as all of the major production roles. It tells the story of a housekeeper living with a family in Mexico in the early 1970s. This film is intimate, it is stunning, and it is clearly based on Cuarón’s own life; I can tell, without even knowing, that this is a personal passion project of his. Where this film falls flat on its face is in the most crucial aspect of a movie like Roma: it’s not engaging. A slow, visually fascinating movie such as this should be undeniably engaging, a grasping feature that mesmerizes the audience. Roma’s visual appeal fades within thirty minutes, and the rest of the film is tedious and uneventful. This story is not worth an over two-hour run-time. Most of the film is watching various slices of life among the household, and the rest is designated for important life events of Cleo, the housekeeper (meeting a guy, getting pregnant, the guy leaves and is abusive afterwards). But honestly, no part of Cleo’s narrative was, to me, refreshing or original. I feel that I and we have seen this plot and these plot points numerous times in cinema, and this time around, nothing new is brought to the table. Once the novelty of watching a gorgeous black-and-white movie dissipates, this film is no longer enticing whatsoever, it completely lost me.
The performances were nothing to call home over, there was no true stand out. The direction was, obviously, great with Cuaron behind this project, yet what’s holding it down underwater is its uninteresting screenplay. There is nothing wrong with a slow burn, and there is nothing wrong with simplicity in dialogue; but when a film is slow, with simple dialogue, and an uneventful narrative, it just loses my interest.
Overall, this film is a hollow shell; everything amazing about Roma is on the surface, and once the viewer spends a little bit of time digging deeper, there is nothing more to be found. The story is nothing we haven’t seen before, and while I love films that bang the drum slowly, Roma, and Cuarón himself, forgets to keep the audience in mind. This film suffers from being too personal, to the point where it should’ve just been shown to Cuarón to satisfy his personal desire to tell this unremarkable story. My theater was filled with walkouts and disappointments, and I am left with the puzzling reflection of “who thought this was a masterpiece?”