Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira
Runtime: 2hr 15min
What It Is: Cleo (Aparicio) is a maid working in a household for a troubled married couple and their four children in early 1970s Colonia Roma during a time of political strife.
What We Think: Right off the bat, this film states its tonal and visual intentions: it is a quiet, soundtrackless, sensory experience of texture and light. The imagery is gorgeously sharp and layered, much like a crashing tide, filmed in decadence with an impossible amount of detail, the shots often having incredibly inclusive depth-of-focus that pops on screen. It is humble yet powerful cinema magic (tell me—how did they shoot that first shot?). There is an intricacy in the filming and choreography of the scenes, despite there at times being a chaos to the featured situation at hand, there’s also an eeriness to the unmoving camera as if we’re watching a moving portrait painting. Its themes are presented through motifs big and small, whether they be through bodies of water or natural disasters (for example), it leaves much to think about. The acting is solid; the characters portray a struggle between the laughable yet deady absurdity and violence of the ego and the suffering of those who are held as caretakers, whether they be youth concerned for their future, mothers, and/or maids. It seems that Cuaron really wants us to pay attention and put the pieces together in this simple tale of things falling apart, as there is always something to be revealed as having been going on around us the entire time that we may not have first realized.
Our Grade: A-, This was nearly a B+, simply because, while masterfully shot and the story carried through realistically, it personally wasn’t quite all there for me until near the end. If I’m being quite honest, I ended up crying a little to it, and that means something to me: I personally had an emotional experience, and by God, do I wish I could have seen this from a view in the very back of the theater and let it wash over me.