Friday, March 1, 2019

Movie Review: “Roma”

By Lorraine Glowczak

Rated: R

I had no clue while watching “Roma” on Netflix over a month ago, during a winter Sunday afternoon laziness, that I was observing a film that would win the Oscars in the categories of Cinematography, Foreign Language Film and Best Director in this past Sunday’s Oscar Awards Ceremony.

I was simply fascinated by the plot and, from my perspective, a realistic story. Afterall, I have a cleaning business on the side, and I could identify with much that occurred throughout the film. 

Writers (and other artists) who follow their calling must do what they do to support their creative mission in life and, although this wasn’t a story about creativity, it was a story about serving those who live life through wealth and how that family of advantage, relies upon those they hire to serve them in a beautiful way.

It’s true that Netflix’s film “Roma” lost the Best Picture Award to “Green Book” but according to, “….it made history in other ways. It’s the first Mexican submission for Best Foreign Language Feature to win in the category. And its Best Cinematography win for director Alfonso Cuarón (who also took Best Director) marked the first time in history that a director simultaneously won the Oscar in the cinematography category.

“Roma” is set in Mexico City in the early 1970s. It centers on a young indigenous woman who works as a maid for a middle-class white family that’s falling apart. As is the custom in this neighborhood, everyone lives behind locked gates and they all hire maids, cooks and drivers who are actually the people who keep homes running. In one such house, Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) lives with and works for this family that scarcely seems capable of doing anything without her. In the morning, she wakes the children; at night, she puts them to bed. From each dawn and until long after dusk, she tends to the family and its sprawling two-story house. She serves meals, cleans away dog droppings and carries laundry up to the roof, where she does the wash in view of other maids on other roofs with their own heavy loads.

But that’s just the beginning. Cleo becomes pregnant and is not sure how to proceed, the husband of the family she works for is having an affair, and someone in the family almost drowns if it weren’t for Cleo saving them – despite her fear of water.

According to movie reviewer, Owen Glieberman, “Cleo is the central figure of “Roma,” yet for most of the film she barely says a word. She’s stoic and dutiful, with a wide face that suggests a statue of humble rectitude, and the fact that she loves this family as her own is presented without question. 

Speaking in her native Mixtec, Aparacio, a non-professional actress, makes Cleo a doleful earth mother with a deep presence, a kind of working-class saint — and, tellingly, a woman with problems she feels compelled to weather without protest.”

Go to Netflix - turn on your subtitles and watch “Roma”. And perhaps learn a little about those we believe as living a life - who have, by social standards, plenty and are the envy of most. However, they are far from advantaged in a non-physical sense, and don’t know it. Because they have what is most important in their life – Cleo.

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