Runtime: 135 mins
Release Date: December 14 (Netflix)
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Yalitza Aparicio
Marina de Tavira
Diego Cortina Autrey
“Roma” is a film with two surface qualities, which immediately rule it out as something most Americans would want to watch. It is in black and white and in Spanish, requiring those of us who only speak English to use subtitles.
As if it was not already unappealing enough to many people, the story the film tells is a very slow burn. That small flame still manages to build up into a raging inferno as the film reaches its end. This pace works for me, though I understand that it will not for most people because of the intensely personal nature of the film.
Academy Award-winning director Alfonso Cuarón (“Gravity,” “Children of Men,” “Y Tu Mamá También”) chose to shoot the film in black and white because he based the film on certain childhood memories (nearly 50 years old at this point), which he claims to remember in black and white. He wanted the film to be as close to the vision he had in his head as humanly possible. This is a perfectly good reason to shoot his film without color, and though Cuarón has made only films in his non-native language of English for the past 18 years (to massive critical acclaim), he obviously spoke Spanish when growing up in Mexico. Thus, he wrote the script in Spanish.
The story cannot be easily summarized, but it focuses on a maid working for an upper-middle-class Mexican family, that family’s mother and their struggles to raise and care for the family’s children while also navigating some staggering personal and emotional traumas. For those willing to invest their time in “Roma,” they will find it a deeply affecting human drama that will stick with them for decades. One scene in particular, which I will not spoil here, was among the biggest emotional punches to the gut I have ever experienced.
Though I do not speak the same language as these characters, I still feel like I know them intimately. This is thanks to Cuarón’s mastery of his craft, the utter brilliance with which he directs his actors and his gift of packing so much information into an image. Cuarón might just be my favorite director, and “Roma” is unquestionably the best film of 2018.
To those who are intimidated by a black and white, foreign-language film but would still like a taste of Cuarón’s brilliance, I cannot recommend his 2006 masterpiece, “Children of Men,” enough. It is shot in color and in English. There is a scene in that film which is so perfect, it almost overshadows the rest of the film. It must be seen to be believed.
Both films are currently available for streaming on Netflix.
Drew Eckhart is a sophomore history and pre-law major from Edmond, OK. He has loved movies for as long as he can remember but thinks his passion really began when he watched “The Dark Knight” for the first time in theaters. His favorite type of movie blends comedy and drama seamlessly, and he loves great action films. In Drew’s free time, he enjoys reading and playing video games, as well as watching TV and movies. His favorite TV show is “BoJack Horseman” and his favorite movie is “Whiplash.”