Roma: The BRWC Review


By Siobhan Eardley.

Written and directed by acclaimed director Alfonso Cuarón, Roma is a semi-autobiographical story partially based on Cuarón’s upbringing in the Colonia Roma area of Mexico City. It focuses on the daily life of Cleo, a housekeeper for a middle-class family.

Roma reminds me of the type of film I would watch when studying foreign language films during my masters. Films that I felt were so high-brow and so intellectual, those that I felt I should immediately love just because I was a ‘Film Student TM’. But sadly I never did. I often found myself hooked for the first ten minutes, purely because they were often quite different. I then became bored for the entire middle and then hooked again in the last twenty minutes or so. With Roma, I had a very similar experience.

Now, don’t get me wrong I loved a lot that this film had to offer. The slow, lingering shots displaying the humdrum domestic life were truly beautiful, placing you right in the middle of the scene. The focus on the calm domestic setting in contrast to the hectic exterior was a constant theme that worked wonderfully.

A number of scenes featured the main cast, with a seemingly more exciting event going on in the background of the shot. It had such a wonderful effect, it really makes you think about why these two events work together and how our main characters might feel about them. Shots like this truly make Roma a wonderfully thought out film.

Despite this, I found the entire film to be rather slow, and I understand it is an essential part of what makes it work. But I could have easily cut at least half an hour out of it and I would have been happy.

The fact that most of the film dragged made the end of the film somehow more compelling. It made me literally straighten up in my seat and get closer to the screen. Prior to this, I had been slumped, just going through the motions with it.

These scenes were so hectic, there was so much on the line and the drama of it all genuinely made my heart rate increase and culminated in me beginning to weep, just because of the raw emotion that was portrayed. I can’t go into much detail, because I would be giving a major plot point away, but hopefully, when you watch it you will understand what I mean.

Although I loved the ending, I wouldn’t be rushing to watch this film again. It feels like a movie that I have to constantly analyse and assess how great the filmmaking is rather than being invested in the story. Despite this, however, there were times where I was gripped by the narrative and it did make me very emotional. Juxtaposing the calm against the hectic, for me created moments of contemplation, that I guess made the wait for the ‘action’ worthwhile.

I would give Roma a chance, I myself needed it to grab me a little bit earlier than it did, but if you are a patient film-viewer (unlike myself) then I think you will love it. It is gorgeously shot, wonderfully acted and it is definitely worth the watch! 

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