Peer into the past with “Roma”

Karenna Doctor, Staff Writer

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What do you remember when looking back upon your childhood? Perhaps it’s the time you spent with your parents, the long days at school, or the countless fights with your siblings. For most of us, our childhood is a blur dotted with occasional moments of clarity and breaks from routine. “Roma” is one of Netflix’s newest additions and reflects on these types of youthful memories.

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma” chronicles the story of live-in maid to a middle class Mexican family in the beginning of the 1970s and is largely based upon Cuaron’s childhood. The maid, Cleo, is faced with her own challenges while also trying to assist her household of four children and the mother, Sofia, who is in a rough marriage.

“Roma” is technically a foreign film and is filmed in Cuaron’s native Spanish and in some Mextico, an indigenous language of Mexico, which both set the stage for the film. It also is filmed in black and white, a rare edition to modern cinema. Cuaron’s goal was to give this era and the culture of Mexico an everlasting nostalgia through a unique perspective, and he does just that. This movie is based in part on his own childhood and takes place in his childhood neighborhood, Colonia Roma, in Mexico City, for which the film is named.

The movie is long (two hours and fifteen minutes) but well worth the time. Cleo, played by Yalitza Aparicio, is a captivating character whose many desires and struggles are well represented in the film. On top of that, she is an indigenous woman playing an indigenous maid, which is representation that is rarely seen.

The storyline does not follow the typical rising action-climax-falling action story arc and is more stagnant throughout the movie, occurring just as life does. This adds a layer of raw beauty to the movie and creates an effortless vibe, all playing into the natural feel of the movie. The emotions shown in the movie are human and easily related to by anyone who has ever experienced any hardship in their lives. The movie is meant to be reflected upon, primarily, by the viewer, but also by Cuaron, who made it to reflect on his childhood himself.

Remember that the film was not an easy sell. It’s a Mexican film in black-and-white and in Spanish. So it’s been so gratifying to hear all the reports of all these sold-out theaters both in the U.S. and in Mexico and now in Italy.”

— Alfonso Cuaron, Los Angeles Times

“Roma” is a refreshing take on life in Mexico: it’s not viewed as a hardship, but viewed simply as life. Already nominated for three Golden Globes, the buzz around this movie is not likely to disappear anytime soon. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to sneak a peek into the lives of people around the globe or anyone wanting to see a movie that is incredibly different from the rest out there.