‘Roma:’ two lives, one story

Recommendation: 4/5 Stars, SHOWTIME

Plot: “A story that chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s,” according to IMDB.

Review: I have never seen anything like “Roma.” It is epic in scale while being intimate at the same time. It is a beautiful thing to behold while dealing with ugliness. It beckons to old Hollywood movies while giving us something fresh and new. It demands attention while encouraging you to wander off into its world. It felt too big and insanely small at the same time. It is about a domestic worker living inside the home of an upper middle-class Mexico City family and it is about much bigger issues. It is about the lives of two women and the challenges before them.

Life outside of the home is where we get our first sense of who Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) truly is. She is young and looking for love. Sofia (Marina de Tavira) is the mother of the house where Cleo works. From different economic classes, we are consistently reminded of the distinctions between these two women. Thanks to beautiful cinematography and a wonderfully written story, we are also forced to see what they have in common. This becomes abundantly clear when Cleo becomes pregnant by a man unwilling to be a father and Sofia’s husband abandons his family for a younger woman.

With two men removed from the picture, the worlds of these women seem to be coming unhinged. Chaos is the name of the game here as Cleo and Sofia battle to redefine themselves. Both must come to terms with who they are now and the lives they want to create for their children.

Warning: spoilers ahead

This is when the most challenging scene of the film takes place as Cleo gives birth to a stillborn child. The coldness of the hospital is heartbreaking beyond any sense of humanity we all hold dear. In a very matter fact sort of way; birth, death, goodbye, and be gone; back to a home filled with four children and a mother wrestling with the loss of her familial identity. It is here that you realize Sofia’s children are practically Cleo’s. It is also here that we come to terms with two lives dealt harsh blows by the waves of life. This film serves as a reminder that while the shoreline may be in a state of constant change, we are built to handle the impossible. For that lesson, I implore you to see this film.

Be good to each other.


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