Director: Alfonso Cuarón
For those who don’t know, director Alfonso Cuarón is known for multiple large-scale Hollywood blockbusters, including Gravity, Children of Men and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but with his latest project, he is minimizing the production level and developing a more personal and grounded expedition. As an experiment in memory and storytelling, Cuarón recalls his childhood and the major events that shaped his world as a youngster in early 1970s Mexico.
While the story focuses on a middle-class family and the trials and tribulations that the parents endure with separation and infidelity, the majority of the film follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), the family’s housekeeper, as she copes with an unplanned pregnancy and a boyfriend who wants nothing to do with the situation. All while these personal events are occurring, major political and social happenings are exploding across the country.
Once again, Cuarón proves that he is one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. Whether it’s a grand-scale production like Gravity or a fly-on-the-wall observatory project like Roma, the creativity and passion that flows on the screen is undeniable. The raw emotion packs a punch that’ll leave audiences with something to ponder on the drive home. Trust me, there are visuals embedded on the celluloid that cannot be unseen, but it’s reality— and sometimes reality needs to be seen. Speaking of visuals, Cuarón also offers an assortment of fantastic cinematography. For a first-time feature-length acting experience, Aparicio demonstrates her talents from harshly dramatic to genuinely sweet. Roma will definitely be a contender in the Foreign Language category this award season, and it would not be surprising for it to earn more than one accolade. This is definitely proof that Netflix is prepared to enter the arena of original films, and the rest of Hollywood should be primed for their arrival. –Jimmy Martin