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Alfonso Cuarón displays his mastery of cinema in this intensely personal film based on the memories of his childhood. It’s a film whose narrative rides on life events, but like many of our own lives, the best moments are often separated with stretches of dull everyday monotony.

“Roma” invites us into the black and white world (literally) of an upper-middle class family 1970 Mexico City. We follow the story of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), an indigenous woman who serves as the family’s live-in nanny and maid. There’s no real narrative here; we are watching events unfold in Cleo’s life. We experience her happiness in the good times, and her pain in the bad. First-time actress Yalitza delivers such a beautiful and natural performance that sometimes we forget that she is still acting.

However, because there is no narrative, it can be hard to stay invested, especially in the first half. If not for Cuarón’s virtuosic display of camera work and sound editing, I might’ve been tempted to switch my time to another film. Luckily, the second half of the film delivers dramatic sequences that pull us back in and justifies the 70 minutes we watched prior (just barely though).

Every shot is painstakingly planned, and no detail is spared, so much so that I can’t help but think that some of these details are significant only to Cuarón. Still, it’s a stunning work of art that deserves to be watched.

★ ★ ★ ★

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

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

2018, R, 135 min

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