Film FestivalsMovie ReviewsTIFF 2018: Roma Review

Keith NoakesSeptember 13, 2018

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here.

Synopsis: The most personal project to date from Academy Award®-winning director and writer Alfonso Cuarón, ROMA follows Cleo, a young domestic worker for a family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City. Delivering an artful love letter to the women who raised him, Cuarón draws on his own childhood to create a vivid and emotional portrait of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil of the 1970s. (Netflix)

Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, and Diego Cortina Autrey

Writer: Alfonso Cuarón

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Rating: TV-MA

Running Time: 135mins


This film has earned plenty of acclaim and an equal amount of hype ever since it was announced. It makes sense since it definitely has all the makings of a top-tier awards contender, from its story with personal significance to writer/director Alfonso Cuarón, to its stylish black and white cinematography also helmed by Cuarón. While watching the film, it was easy to see why this was a passion project for Cuarón. In the film, he treats his characters and his story with the level of care befitting a passion project. The story was about a woman named Cleo (Aparicio), a maid working for a middle-class family in the neighborhood of Roma during the political turmoil of 1970s Mexico City.

The film was about the many women who raised Cuarón, focusing on Cleo and Sofia (de Tavira), the matriarch of the family. Both women’s stories traversed similar lines with both women trying to hold it all together by themselves despite almost insurmountable odds. They may be struggling but at least they had each other. Cleo found herself pregnant and alone while Sofia found herself having to take care of her family alone because of her philandering husband Antonio (Fernando Grediaga). Both showed tremendous strength and were inspiring to watch, however, Cleo’s story was far more compelling and often more heartbreaking.

The acting was great across the board and was even more impressive was how the film kept these characters at the forefront due to the lack of a score. There was so much emotion on display here, especially from Araparicio in her first acting role as Cleo. Next to the cinematography, she was the best part of the film, showing great vulnerability and restraint over the course of the film. She was so likable that Cleo was a character that was easy to root for and emotionally invest in.

Overall, this was a beautifully shot and emotional period piece about the power of motherhood that is slightly overlong and strays whenever the focus shifts away from the main character. The passion and dedication behind the film is admirable with the end result being one of Netflix’s better offerings.

Score: 9/10

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