Roma

LetterboxD review link

I saw Roma at the New York Film Festival a few months before its wider release. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It is my favorite film of 2018 (with Burning close behind). I have sang its praises and proselytized on its behalf to anyone who asks me about my favorite films of 2018. You’ve probably read about its incredible photography, its depiction of Mexico City, the 70s, family dynamics, cinema on cinema and myriad other praises heaped upon it. And each of them is earned.

To me, though, it was the relationship between Cleo and the kids that really stuck with my for months after this screening. I grew up with young, quiet, devoted in-home maids like Cleo and Adela. I remember much about them – many afternoons spent playing together, them feeding, bathing and clothing me, protecting me from my parents when necessary, walking me to and from the bus stop, and participating in basically every aspect of our family, all while never fully being a part of our family. I also remember the maids in our close family friends’ homes. Who would welcome us, take care of us, feed us, put us to bed, when our parents got together for parties. I remember their smells. I remember their voices. I remember the special, difficult to translate, place they occupied in our lives.

In the final shot of Roma as the camera follows Cleo and then afixes onto the sky, and a plane goes across the sky, I was overcome with emotion thinking about the plane that took me from New Delhi to Detroit. And the life I left behind. And although I’ve spent time thinking about my family and friends, and about those women, it wasn’t until this film that I truly took some time to think back with gratitude for everything they did for me.

This same sense of gratitude and thanks from Cuaron was present throughout the film. That’s a undergirding motivation that I wish would animate more stories in our lives. We could all stand to use gratitude as a reason to create something. Especially gratitude for people who rarely get thanked.

(Also at the screening I attended, Cuaron was unable to present the film, so he asked Guillermo Del Toro to introduce it. It was wonderful to see how Cuaron and Del Toro [and Innaritu by extension] support each other.)