Release: 24th February 2020
Format: BR / DGTL
A year in the life of a middle-class family’s maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.
Why on earth would anyone with a Netflix account spend their hard-earned cash on a blu-ray release of Roma? It is even available in its native 4K format on the streaming platform, rather than a downgraded scan of the same format for this Criterion release. Only an utter fool would make such a purchase…We say, pish-posh. Treat yo’ self with this one, because Netflix won’t last forever, and when the zombie apocalypse hits and the internet has died a death, you and your sensible investment will be safe and sound; free to submerged yourself in the ethereal world of Cleo.
Built mostly from memories, Roma is not just a love letter from director Alfonso Cuaron to his own childhood, but more so to the woman who so clearly played an integral part in it. There is little new to be said about this gorgeous and touching portrayal of a simple, loyal and resilient woman. For a film that is, mostly, a huge departure from Cuaron’s recent trajectory of Harry Potter, The Children of Men and Gravity; Roma is surprisingly gripping, just in unusual ways. This isn’t a film that seeks tension or drama through conventional means. It is, instead, mostly about the suspense of everyday life. Questions such as “does he love me?” and “is my future secure?” propel Cleo through a story that breaks every rule about storytelling. Yet, somehow, Roma proves itself to be a meaningful meditation of the almost messianic figure of a woman invisible to the world around her.
Roma was shot and colour graded beautifully. This translates perfectly to the always stellar Criterion presentation. Blacks are so deep they threaten to stain your clothes, and highlights carry with them a silky texture. Short of an actual UHD presentation, this truly is they way to own this film.
Film Grade: A
Some docs are lifted straight from Netflix, but the most eye-opening is that covering the film’s post-production. It is insane how many visual effects Roma contained. Cuaron and his team used every trick in the VFX playbook, and the result is a film that looks effortlessly natural.
Special Features Grade: B+
Just like the woman it represents, Roma is understated and chanting. At times brutal, and other times hilarious. Not a single frame is wasted.