Monday, February 11, 2019
Wow! What a Film!
Last night Alejandro and I went to see the Academy Award nominated motion picture "Roma". As the credits were rolling at the end, Alejandro said simply, "Wow!" Over the years I have enjoyed countless movies. Some were outstanding, but only a few have been indelibly engraved on my mind. I think "Roma" will be one of those. It is a masterpiece.
We went to see the movie at a small, art cinema called Cine Tonalá which is located in the Mexico City neighborhood of Roma. We arrived early, so after Alejandro parked the car, we took a short walk. Just two blocks away is the childhood home of the director Alfonso Cuarón and across the street is the house where much of the movie was filmed.
The movie is not for everyone. If your taste in movies runs exclusively to superheroes, car chases and non-stop mayhem, you probably will not care for "Roma". The movie is a semi-autobiographical film in which Cuarón recreates his boyhood. The central character is Cleo, the family´s maid / nanny, played brilliantly by Yalitza Aparicio in her film debut. Cleo is based on Cuarón's own nanny Liboria, to whom the film is dedicated. The movie begins by meticulously recreating the daily life of an upper middle class family in 1970s Mexico City and focusses especially upon the chores of maid Cleo. Some have found this slow or boring, but to me it was fascinating. Even though the movie takes place nearly fifty years ago there were so many details to which I could relate, especially since I spend so much time at Alejandro's home. Trying to park the car in the narrow entryway of the house, the laundry hanging on the line, the metal stairs going up the roof, the melancholy whistle of the street vendor selling sweet potatoes, even the constant chore of sweeping up dog ca-ca, all resonated with me. I am not going to give away the story line, but gradually the plot develops and builds to three scenes which are shattering in their intensity.
I am glad that I saw the movie at the cinema rather than on the small screen streaming through Netflix. Obviously there were no English subtitles at this showing in Mexico City, and I admit that I did not catch all of the dialogue. (But Alejandro said that even he did not catch everything.) Although the movie is in black and white, seeing it on the big screen I felt that I was more emotionally drawn into Cuarón's world and that the climactic scenes were more wrenching than if I had watched it on television.
I will be back home in Ohio later this month, and I will be watching the Academy Awards and rooting for this superb movie.