Netflix recently released a Spanish film Roma which is primarily about the relationship between a housekeeper and her employers set against the backdrop of the political turmoil of Mexico in early 1970s. It is based on director James Cuarón’s growing up years. The movie was premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival (30th August, 2018). It won the prestigious Golden Lion there. The film witnessed a limited theatrical release on 21st November this year and recently started streaming on Netflix.
Roma is about a family that consists of a couple and four kids, assisted by two housekeepers. The husband Antonio is shown to have a sour relationship with his wife Sofia, much to her dismay. As the film progresses, he even leaves his family on the pretext to going to Quebec for research, when in fact, he has left his family to be with his lover.
The housekeepers, apart from the usual employee-bickering, are very close to the family, especially the kids. We even see them putting the kids to sleep, and lovingly waking them up every morning. The love is so obvious in each and every frame.
One of the housekeepers, Cleo, gets pregnant and it’s her lover Fermin’s. However, when she tells him about the development, he deserts her, cutting all ties, leaving her all by herself. She does not realise then, that she has a family – one that is not even hers – that will be with her all the way. Cleo traces Fermin eventually, but he threatens her to never look for him again.
When Cleo is nearing her due date, she is taken to a shop by Sofia’s mother Teresa to a shop to buy a crib. As they are looking around, a riot break out on the streets, with few rioters even entering the store and shooting someone dead. One of the attackers turns out to be Fermin. The moment he lays eyes on Cleo, he has his gun pointed at her. He stops for a dreadful moment, and then, starts backing off and runs away. Just then Cleo’s water breaks. The situation outside leads to a traffic snarl, resulting in Cleo reaching the hospital, albeit too late. When her baby girl is delivered, she doesn’t have a heartbeat and is declared dead, despite attempts to her heart to start beating again. Cleo’s pain never really does go away, but is lessened by all the love showered on her by the family she works for.
Sofia arranges a trip with her kids, and takes Cleo along, to help her cope with her loss. Cleo doesn’t want to but Sofia insists. On their trip, when the family goes to the beach, Cleo saves the kids from drowning. Blinded by tears, she confesses that she never wanted her kid to be born, regretting that she even thought that way. However, the collective hugs from every member of the family she is now an inseparable part of, help her heal.
What’s WOW: When Cleo tells Sofia about her pregnancy, she is scared that she will be fired. However, the concern shown by Sofia is heartening. She even takes Cleo to the doctor to get her checked up.
Sofia’s mother Teresa takes Cleo to a store to buy cribs – the same one where they bought cribs for their kids. The fact that the family wanted Cleo to have a brand new crib, and not a used one, is beautiful.
When Cleo delivers a stillborn, director Alfonso Cuarón takes his own sweet time in showing the pain she goes through – her tears, the baby getting wrapped up in a piece of white cloth. The moment the cloth is placed over the infant’s face, a tear that you might have held back all this while, is sure to come rolling down.
Director James Cuarón reveals details of every character and has done utmost justice to it. The kids, though the most under-established characters in the film, never refrain from expressing their love for Cleo. It surely tugs at heartstrings
What’s Blah: It is not for viewers who want fast paced films, with action in every frame.
Parting Shot: A must watch, but with enough time on your hands and a calm mind.
Cast and Crew:
Cast: Yalitza Aparicio (Cleo), Marina de Tavira (Sofia), Diego Cortina Autrey (Toño), Carlos Peralta (Paco), Marco Graf (Pepe), Daniela Demesa (Sofi), Nancy García (Adela), Verónica García (Teresa), Fernando Grediaga (Sr. Antonio), Jorge Antonio Guerrero (Fermín), José Manuel Guerrero Mendoza (Ramon)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Producer: Alfonso Cuarón, Gabriela Rodriguez, Nicolas Celis
Writer: Alfonso Cuarón
Cinematography: Alfonso Cuarón
Editor: Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough