Roma is a quaint, slice-of-life film with the black-and-white softness of Hollywood classics. The artistry on display at the hands of director Alfonso Cuarón is filmmaking in its highest form. Cuarón is entirely deliberate in everything he does in Roma. Every setting, every shot, and every note of the score is immaculate. But despite Roma’s technical prowess, its focus on the everyday lives of its characters leaves a bulk of the runtime feeling somewhat aimless and mundane.
That is not to say that Roma lacks engagement or is devoid of emotion. Its dissection of family dynamics and the power of matriarchal figures is a constant throughout the film. Cuarón’s use of the family as a microcosm for the classist conflicts happening around them provides the audience with an understanding of 1970’s Mexico without the need for a history lesson. There are powerful, tender moments that show characters at their most vulnerable and there are scenes filled with gut-wrenching tension. Roma’s issue isn’t the lack of these scenes, it’s simply that they are too few and far between.
Roma will rightfully earn heaps of praise for its artistry and craftsmanship. But for all of its filmmaking mastery, the story at its core always feels an arm’s length away.