“Roma” (2018) is a spellbinding, one-of-a-kind Spanish-language drama set in 1970, largely within the titular “Roma” neighborhood of Mexico City. The storyline follows the life of Cleodegaria "Cleo" Gutiérrez (Yalitza Aparicio), who works as a housekeeper and caretaker for a wealthy doctor’s family.
Firmly established as a source of both labor and emotional support to Antonio, his wife Sofia and their four young children, Cleo fulfills her role dutifully even while being pursued by Fermin—a young martial arts novice who seduces and ultimately impregnates her. Fermin, however, abandons Cleo upon learning of her state, coinciding all too distressingly with Antonio’s departure from his own family—leaving an emotionally fragile Cleo to support a devastated Sofia and her children.
Written and directed by cinematic luminary Alfonso Cuarón ("Y Tu Mama Tambien", "Children of Men"), “Roma” is based in part on his own childhood in Mexico City, and the film radiates the human compassion and grandeur he clearly carries in his heart from adolescence. He surrenders not only enormous empathy for the character of Cleo and the surrogate family she comes to shepherd, but also delivers one of the most unduly beautiful films in cinematic history. It’s warm, sweeping, and majestic black-and-white photography bolsters the poignancy, the heartbreak and every bit of humanity on display, from beginning to end.
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