Roush Review: Small Moments Feel Epic in Alfonso Cuarón Netflix Movie 'Roma'
Small moments feel epic in Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón’s sumptuous art-house film, a rare instance of home viewers getting first-run access to one of the year’s most acclaimed movies in time for awards season.
The routine of domestic servant Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio, in a luminous acting debut) is anything but in this quietly devastating chronicle of a Mexico City family’s life in the early 1970s — an homage inspired by the filmmaker’s own middle-class childhood.
The first sustained image is of water washing over tiles, which we soon realize is Cleo’s daily task of mopping up a garage floor after the family’s neglected dog. This foreshadows a much later incident in which relentlessly crashing waves endanger Cleo’s young charges on a fateful outing to the beach.
In between, Roma (named after the family’s neighborhood) follows Cleo through a series of personal challenges, culminating in a remarkable scene of a shopping trip to a furniture store that collides with a bloody political street revolt. Cuarón isn’t making grand statements here, yet he ennobles his everyday heroine as she goes about her unremarkable life with remarkable fortitude.
Roma, Movie Premiere, Friday, Dec. 14, Netflix