Wednesday, December 26, 2018


Alfonso Cuaron's Roma is rife with emblematic images. At a party of New Year’s revelers the baby bottles stand alongside vials of booze—as adults behave like children. Dog shit lies in the driveway of the upper middleclass household, where Sofia (Marina de Tavira) is about to be abandoned by her husband Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), who actually steps in it on his way out for the last time. Sofia’s plight is mirrored by that of Cleo the maid (Yalitza Aparicio), who's impregnated then abandoned by her boyfriend, Fermin (Giorgio Antonio Guerrero), a martial artist and protofascist. Would that one could add to the chorus of praise that’s been heaped on this partially autobiographical film set in the 70's Mexico City neighborhood of the title. However the movie is irredeemably shallow. As if to underscore the theme of loss, the family goes away on vacation and two of the children almost drown. An ominous looking crab claw, punctuates a scene where Sofia has informed her brood that their father isn't coming back. The government's violent repression of demonstrators as Cleo sets out to buy a crib turns out to be prescient of the birth. It’s hard to quibble with the notion that men can be monsters and human existence a slog. Yet despite the redemptive aspects epitomized by the self-sacrificing Cleo's love for her charges, Roma's narrative and its heavyhanded symbolism remain stultifyingly in service to the obvious.

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