★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
Alfonso Cuarón is nothing short of a visionary genius. Noted for his affinity for long takes & immersive direction, Cuarón has managed to make great film after great film after great film.
But Roma is his masterpiece. It's a visually stunning, emotionally affecting work of art. Set in 1970 & 1971 Mexico City, the film follows Cleodegaria "Cleo" Gutiérrez (played by Yalitza Aparicio), a domestic worker for a wealthy family. Another domestic worker, Adela (played by Nancy García), works for the family as well. The family consists of Sofia (played by Marina de Tavira), Antonio (played by Fernando Grediaga), & their children: Pepe (played by Marco Graf); Sofi (played by Daniela Demesa); Toño (played by Diego Cortina Autrey); & Paco (played by Carlos Peralta).
One day, Antonio leaves for a medical conference in Québec. However, he doesn't plan on returning back to his family. In their time off, Cleo & Adela enjoy time with their respective significant others: martial arts enthusiast Fermín (played by Jorge Antonio Guerrero) & Ramón (played by José Manuel Guerrero Mendoza). While at the theater, Cleo tells Fermin that she believes that she is pregnant & that he is the potential father. Fermín leaves to use the bathroom, but does not return. A test eventually confirms her pregnancy.
As the family's lives go on, Cleo sees all the events unfolding in their lives, as she gets closer & closer to her due date. Together, their lives slowly unfold over the course of a year in a rebellious Mexico City.
The cast is fantastic. Yalitza Aparicio gives one of the best debut performances of the century. She fully embodies her character to the point where she seems just like a regular person. Marina de Tavira also gives a powerful performance, & she gets to showcase her tremendous acting talent in one amazing scene in the second act. And the rest of the supporting cast leaves indelible marks in their small but pivotal roles.
Alfonso Cuarón's direction is excellent. Cuarón oversees the film with a very up-close & personal eye, & that works especially excellent here for this slice-of-life film.
Alfonso Cuarón's screenplay is amazing. The plot is always intriguing, the characterization is superb down to the smallest of roles, & the dialogue is incredibly human.
Alfonso Cuaron's cinematography is breathtaking. Shot in black-&-white & on 70mm film, the camerawork is just lovely, using several long-takes to absolute perfection.
The editing by Alfonso Cuarón & Adam Gough is spectacular. The pacing is perfect, & there is not one single bad edit throughout the entire film.
Anna Terrazas' costume design is beautiful. The costumes are very simple, but very lovely & very period-accurate.
Eugenio Cabollero's production design is gorgeous. The sets are so incredibly immersive & very period-accurate, transporting you into the world of 1970s Mexico City.
And the sound editing is impeccable. The sounds are so incredibly immersive, from the sounds of every-day Mexico City to the sounds of protests & gunshots in the streets.
This is the best film of the year so far, & the best foreign language film of all time. It's a wonderfully made film that is emotionally empowering & visually wondrous.
Roma was seen by me at the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI on Friday, December 14, 2018. It is currently in 3 theaters in the Detroit area: the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI; Cinema Detroit in Detroit, MI; & the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, MI. Its runtime is 135 minutes, & it is rated R for graphic nudity, some disturbing images, & language.