3 ½ (out of 4)
Alfonso Cuarón has embraced the unencumbered creative freedom afforded him since he transformed the Harry Potter series from a line of kid flicks to the benchmark for mainstream fantasy in a post-LOTR world. His follow-up, 2006's Children of Men, is one the most mesmerizingly photographed movies of the 21st century and in company with the best films of our time too. He then took seven years to churn out Gravity – in every visual respect the work of a technical prodigy but worth significantly less in writing and performance.
Still, Cuarón has broken many barriers and was bound to return his privilege and prowess to the most antithetically personal playing field. The Mexican filmmaker hasn’t fashioned a film in his own language or country since the emphatically erotic Y tu Mama También so it was only a matter of time before a most welcome readjustment to a more practical artistic framework. With Roma Cuarón produces a poignantly quotidian portrait working both as a sincere slice of his own subjectivity and as a harrowing new installation in the director’s diverse and dominating filmography.
Far from exploding satellites, the restrictively domestic struggles of a modest housekeeper are showcased with uncommon clarity as Cuarón refurbishes his love of long-take experimentation. The 3D wizardry and handheld authenticity are substituted for swiveling pans informally illustrating action through up to 360 degrees of investigated space. The same simple camera motions capture tedious chores as bluntly as jolting violence and severe revelation. The extended single-shots are all justified in measured bouts of beauty. If you think the pivotal birth scene in Children of Men was intense, it has nothing on the analogous delivery sequence in Roma – Like Children, some of Roma's most traumatic moments are nonetheless awe-inspiring.
Cuarón comfortably elevates the definition of a Netflix original film with a particularly great film reputable enough to also earn a fairly wide theatrical release, setting a paramount precedent. The mode of viewing notwithstanding, Roma is a beautiful film in thought and sensation, sweepingly portrayed in monochromatic glory and humbly humanized by newcomer Talitza Aparicio.
To keep it brief...
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