Advance Review of Netflix’s Roma

This is an advance review out of the Toronto International Film Festival. Roma will debut on Netflix later this year.

Roger Ebert once wrote that “movies are like a machine that generates empathy,” and nothing encapsulates that sentiment better than Roma. Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón has traded the epic vastness of space for an intimate story about his own childhood and the women who raised him. Whether you grew up in a similar situation, or just have a beating heart, Roma pulls all the right strings at the right moments to make you feel like you’ve known this family your whole life.

Cuarón says Roma is 90% based on his own childhood, and based on the level of detail and care, it shows. We follow a chapter in the life of Cleo (first-time actress and breakout star Yalitza Aparicio), a housekeeper in the titular middle-class neighborhood Roma, in Mexico City during the early ‘70s. She works for a family of three boys and a girl. Cleo is more than just a maid, more often than not acting as a surrogate mother to the children in the absence of their parents. She tucks the children in at night, helps them get dressed, and makes sure they get to school on time. She also has the patience of a saint, as when the parents are actually in the house, they are a constant reminder that Cleo is not really a part of their family. While they are kind to her, she is still only “the help”. While Latin-Americans will especially identify with the relationship between housekeepers and the families they work for, Cuarón makes sure that no matter your life experiences, you will still care for this family.

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