Roma

Roma ★★★

The criticism is misdirected, and the praise is misplaced. Honestly, despite liking Roma a fair bit, I sympathize a lot more with the criticism and the flaws of the film than I do with the mass hysterical lauding for it. But really—what I see in the film is much different than I have seen in the majority of my peers' examinations and views of it.

Let's start with the positives—I love the passivity of Cleo. Throughout the majority of the film, she takes little to no actions upon the situations around her, and she either ignores them or simply dismisses the responsibility to do anything about it. She's a character would typically assume the background of the story; yet she is placed as the forefront character, and as the sole perspective of the film. Due to this, her inactivity throughout most of the film rings loud and clear; and it impacts a lot of the scenes within the film—one can feel her passivity permeate throughout, directly guiding the course of the pathos. When she finally does overcome her inactivity, her character arc comes full circle, in a small yet glorious event.

I really liked how Cleo foils Sofia, and how they have drastically different responses and actions in the midst of similar events. Through heartbreak, grief, loneliness, and isolation: their actions and inactions reflect and juxtapose each other, proving a very fascinating look into their lives.

For the negatives—I rather dislike the way that Cuarón fuses the political landscape of the world into his film. I was never a fan of it in his other work, but I think it really shows in Roma. He tries to make it subtle and a part of the world the characters are in by having character conflicts and events go on at the same time some political event is going on—yet it comes off as way too blatant, misplaced, and adds little to the actual character situations going on. It lacks the reticence and purpose that would have actually made it deserved and impactful, and because of this, it comes off as poor and even irksome.

Roma also plays too much with its mundanity. I think Cuarón mistakes mundanity for the rationale that "let's do whatever we want" equals a strong, meaningful narrative. His brand of the mundane comes across as undeveloped and immature for some parts of the film—a majority of it is really strong, but sometimes it gets too carried away with itself.

A good friend of mine, Justine, mentioned in their review for the film that it plagiarizes the work and style of Béla Tarr. I would like to refute this claim whole-heartedly, citing it as unfounded and completely without merit. The film bears little resemblance to his work; and the cinematography contains little to no similarities between this and his work, besides that they both utilize long takes and deal with the mundane. Their stylistic tones are drastically different, but in narrative and in form. If anything, the film's design and form resembles more the work of Lav Diaz, yet such a comparison is unhealthy in the first place, and futile in the end of it, as even that is rather unfounded. Roma's style is wholy unique to itself, and is not plagiarizing anything or anyone, neither is it a playful pastiche.

If there is one thing to be taken away from this review, I'd say that it'd be this—Roma is a much better film when looked at from a literary sense, than it is in any actual viewing or emotional sense. It can be appreciated and enjoyed decently; but overall, it is just an alright film.

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