Roma deserves to be seen on the big screen – do yourself a favour and see it before it hits Netflix, and then see it again.
The streaming platform have done well with this acquisition – however many watch Roma in their living rooms, and it may not be nearly so many as view whatever Christmas special is trending come the holidays, more than any other film to date Roma signals that the juggernaut are serious about and want those little gold statues.
Commencing with one of the best opening shots of recent cinema, a masterclass like so much else in lighting and frame composition that will have many film fanatics, this author among them, transfixed, Director Alfonso Cuaron’s latest, on which he also served as Cinematographer, is one of his greatest triumphs.
Recalling the life of a middle class family amidst upheaval in 1970’s Mexico and in particular one figure the likes of which in traditional cinema has largely been relegated to the shadows, here the shadows and on occasion intendedly lack thereof brighten that hitherto unseen as we are enveloped in Cleo’s (Yalitza Aparicio) world while she cares for a family not her own.
Shying away from Cleo at the outset, we are forced to focus on and learn of her environment, as intrinsic as all else to the story being told, long before we are proffered one of the many expression-filled, highly-emotive encounters with Cleo herself. Taking us through her life and that of those closest to her, two combat-centric sequences and a breathlessly harrowing scene about two thirds of the way into the film serve as only a few of the visual, emotion-laden highlights.
Two particular innovations by Cuaron similarly stand-out, one involving a brief sojourn at a lake as nameless characters pursue game and another, stunningly captured in one take, as Cleo wades deep into a body of water.
Filmed in black and white, the palette by and large serves Cuaron well as it underlines that stark, desolate and not so seldomly unforgiving. The style is deployed to best use during one encounter with a set of flames, here thrillingly captured and consummately emblazoned on the screen.
A visual treat for any cinephile, Cuaron nails it with Roma.
Roma is screening as part of the Cine Latino Film Festival, will screen in limited theatrical release at the Randwick Ritz from December 7-12 and will stream on Netflix from December 14