Starring: Yalitza Aparico
Directed By: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Children of Men)
Runtime: 2 hours 15 minutes
I’ve told you this story before, but allow me to tell it once more. Netflix wants an Oscar. Badly. They’ll pay top dollar to let you make the movie that a studio won’t green light. So when Alfonso Cuaron, director of Gravity and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, wanted to tell the story of his cleaning lady he grew up with in the 70s in Mexico, Netflix jumped at the chance to add him to their library. They didn’t care that the movie is in black and white. And in Spanish. They want high profile projects. And they got one in Roma.
It’s topping a number of year end best lists. Not mine. But I see the movie they’re raving about. It’s beautifully directed. The movie is absolutely stunning to look at. Great shots. Great long, singular tracking shots. Things movie buffs nerd out about. However, Netflix has an unusual problem that movies don’t normally have to combat. When I’m in a theater my sole focus is on the movie. When I’m at home watching Netflix, I have literally every other thing in the world vying for my attention. That’s probably not the best place to launch your two hour and fifteen minute movie about the life and times of a cleaning lady.
There’s just not enough happening here to warrant a movie. It’s at least 30 minutes too long. The Spanish isn’t bothersome. I can handle a foreign movie, but I know a lot of people will check out immediately if they know that. It’s a slice of life story, which is code for “not a lot of plot”. I’ve raved about a number of slice of life films on this show before. But not this one. When something is happening, this is truly a terrific movie. But there’s 10 minutes in between scenes where something happens where absolutely nothing happens. It’s bothersome to me. Which is a problem Cuaron often runs into. Gravity was big and bold and beautiful, but at times it was just Sandra Bullock floating in space.
I by no means hated this movie. I see why a lot of critics like it. But I’m not a critic, I’m a guy who goes to a lot of movies. There’s a subtle difference between the two. I think seeing it in a theater is the way to go if you want to try it. Or, you’ve got to lock your phone up in another room and focus.
Roma tells the story of a maid in the 70s when Mexico City was a turbulent place to live. There were political riots in the streets. Those type of things are happening in the background, and it’s quite compelling. Our heroine is knocked up early on in the movie, there’s fleeting moments of humor. This movie’s got a few jokes in it. But in between all those moments is the dull day-to-day monotonous moments of life. Which I gets is true to life, but we go to the movies to escape the monotony.
On a scale of "See It/Stream It/Skip It", I'm voting Skip It, because the venn diagram of people who listen to KFAB and want to see Roma is razor thin
If you liked Gravity, Boyhood, or The Florida Project you might like Roma.
3 out of 5 stars for Roma. I see why it’s being raved about. We’re just looking for different things.