After probing family and social relationships in such films as "Children of
Men" and "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and the outstanding success of a futuristic
space journey in "Gravity," wherein lays leading edge CGI effects, Director
Alfonso Cuaron recedes to black and white photography and calm, artful tones
to meditate on his childhood. "Roma" appears to be a thank you letter to the
woman who raised him in a busy and comfortable Mexican home for his extended
family of fairly comfortable means, circa 1971.
Principal here is the maid of all needs in the household, the very young
Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) who is given central stage thoughout the year-long,
soft, gentle, puffy memorialization of a major influence in Cuaron's boyhood.
Given the importance of the role I can only imagine that the auteur would
have spent some considerable time casting the representational actor for the
part. But I could be the only reviewer bewildered and unforgiving for the
The part is Aparicio's first and her stage presence reveals it. Now, we've
seen plenty of brilliant first-time wonders but, to me, Aparicio is far from
that, possessing no great physical attraction, magnetism, nor natural
charisma. I simply couldn't detect the quality that earned her attention
and ceaseless promotion apart from the simple fact that it was for Cuaron and
the studio which was prepared to spend any amount to buy media attention for
At the time of this writing, the astounding size of the purse to promote
"Roma" paid off with an Oscar nomination and other awards, but it buys me
little appreciation except for the downright beauty of the black and white
Worse, it didn't take me very far in sharing his homage. The flood of
promotion ads in every outlet possible affected me far more. Negatively.
~~ Jules Brenner
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