Written and directed by critically acclaimed Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón who won the Oscar for Best Director for the 2013 movie Gravity, Roma is a beautifully intimate movie that takes the power of an epic film with its magnificent panoramic cinematography and heartfelt storytelling that is both personal and explores Mexican society on a larger scale. Loosely based upon the filmmaker’s own life growing up in Mexico City in the 1970s in the upper-middle-class Roma neighborhood, the story is a rather simple yet deeply personal one revolving around a maid named Cleo, played by first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio in a remarkably tender performance, who works for a relatively wealthy family headed by Sophia and her increasingly distant husband Antonio. As an indigenous young woman from an extremely poor village in southern Mexico, Cleo who lives along with another housekeeper named Adela at the family’s house comes to be seen as part of their family and is beloved by the four young children who treat her as a second mother. Much of the film focuses on the daily tasks of Cleo who truly runs the household, including doing the laundry, cleaning, cooking, waking up the kids, and putting the kids to sleep. To give the movie a nostalgic and almost home video feel, the filmmaker makes the superb decision to film the entire movie in black-and-white and full of long takes that slowly and beautifully sweeps and pans across the scenes. Furthermore, the story is made that much more powerful by having the narrative structure primarily focus on Cleo yet, at the same time, exploring the historical societal and political events happening across Mexico in 1970 and 1971. For instance, Cleo witnesses a large student protest in the streets of Mexico City that turned violent with paramilitary forces murdering students in cold blood, but the filmmaker is able to bring it down to a personal level by having the event trigger the pregnant Cleo having her water break and facing her own traumatic tragedy. Although the plot may not sound that interesting to most viewers, the top-notch craftsmanship of Cuarón makes for an amazingly compelling story complete with so much heartwarming and heartbreaking moments that it is hard for the audience to look away from such a mesmerizing cinematic experience. Overall, I found it to be perhaps the best movie of the year that is worthy of many Academy Awards, and the already award-winning director who made the film as a passion project is able to reach the pinnacle of his art and thereby move even the most dismissive viewer. The only issue is that a majority of audiences will not be able to see it on the big screen, the only place that it should be seen with its epic cinematography, as a result of the movie being released on the streaming platform Netflix; however, it is not surprising that such a breakthrough film would be made available in such a industry-changing fashion and may very well make history by earning Netflix an Oscar for Best Picture.

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