Movie review: Roma

“Roma” is remarkable. It starts out loose and you wonder if it will gel. The opening interior shots are shot in wide angle which keys you into a space just this side of a dream. That carries throughout the film as it presents scene after scene containing that odd mixture of rough reality and the truly bizarre that I’ve always loved about Mexico.

Those elements jump out of the corners of the picture frame and always put me through the same process of becoming familiar with those everyday oddities, after which I would repeat the same refrain, “That is so Mexico!”.

This tone is consistent and so artful that it is nearly transparent to the story. The slippery but substantial magic that infuses this great culture supports and enlivens the narrative, supporting it very effectively from the background. The story is heartfelt and powerful, containing the motion from failure to triumph, wounding to healing.

The lead actress, Yalitza Aparicio, is mentioned for an Oscar. She has a natural strength that establishes the pivot point for the story. Her dignity and presence dominate the screen. Her failings and her heroism become ours. And in the process the profile of the indigenous culture she represents is honored and elevated.

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