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Award season for the film industry is well underway. The announcement of the Best Picture nominated movies sets the stage for this year’s Academy Awards, scheduled to air Sunday, February 24.
Here are the nominees:
For the first time in many years, I have already seen half of the nominees. Previous reviews are linked above to those films, although I just discovered that I failed to post a review for Black Panther. Fortunately, I’ll have an opportunity to rectify that!
Up for review tonight is Roma, a foreign language film out of Mexico.
Roma stars Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Marco Graf, Nancy Garcia, Fernando Grediaga and Jorge Antonio Guerrero. This drama, written and directed by Alfonso Cuaron, carries an R rating, for language and a graphic nudity scene, and has a run time of 2 hours and 15 minutes. This Netflix movie is in Spanish, with English subtitles.
Roma is nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Actress for Yalitza, Best Supporting Actress for de Tavira, and a host of technical awards.
Movie Review: Roma
Set in 1970s Mexico City, in the Colonia Roma neighborhood, this film tells the story of a domestic worker, Cleo (Yalitza), who works for an upper middle class family. Cleo, and the other housekeeper, Adele (Garcia) clean house, cook, run errands and care for the family’s four children. Cleo is especially close to the youngest son, Pepe (Graf).
Both of the young women live in the family complex, sharing an upstairs room across the courtyard. Their tasks are often menial and their days are long. However, there is a genuine bond of affection between the family members and the hardworking girls.
When tension between the couple, Sofia (de Tavira) and Antonio (Grediaga), escalates, Antonio moves out. His departure frightens Sofia at first, and then frees her to begin to build a different life.
Amid caring for the children and scooping up dog poop and washing countless dishes, Cleo dates a young man, Fermin (Guerrero). However, their relationship seems destined to follow the same path as her employers. Fermin leaves when he learns Cleo is pregnant.
In this slice of life film, the story unfolds, in stops and starts, over the course of a year, with unrest in Mexico City providing the backdrop. The women in the story, Sofia and Cleo, must find their places in the new world they find themselves thrust into. They must discover who they are and in doing so, create a stronger future for the children.
My Thoughts on Roma
I found Roma to be an intriguing film. Shot in black and white, the cinematography is beautiful with interesting angles and camera positions. The focus is on Cleo, who represents a woman named Libo, who raised Alfonso Cuaron, in the Colonia Roma suburb of Mexico City. This isn’t his story though. It is hers, making this movie a touching tribute to Libo.
Roma isn’t an action packed movie filled with special effects. Rather it explores relationships and the bonds that can form between people with vastly different backgrounds. Cleo’s family is from a poor rural village. Sofia has known no lack, financially, however her marriage does not turn out the way she imagined it would.
Some will feel impatient with the movie’s slower pace. However, for me it feels just right. The scenes allow for immersion into the story and, most importantly, to form a bond as well with these women.
My Predictions for Roma
Roma has already done well in early award shows, picking up Golden Globes for Best Director for Cuaron and Best Foreign Film. It is the type of artsy-yet-gritty film that the Academy loves, fresh and imaginative with an intimacy that draws the viewer in. Roma offers an unapologetic peek into the personal life of Cleo, and to a lesser extent, into Sofia’s.
With 10 nominations, I expect Roma to do well at the Oscars. Will it take home the top award, for Best Picture? I’m not sure, with the strength Bohemian Rhapsody has gathered at the recent award shows. Best Director is almost a sure thing for this film, along with Best Foreign Film. I’ll be watching to see just how far Alfonso Cuaron can take his latest masterpiece.
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