Remembering ‘Roma’ at the 2018 New York Film Festival

“Roma” is one of the Reel Dad’s favorite films from the 2010’s.

“Roma” is one of the Reel Dad’s favorite films from the 2010’s.

Contributed photo

Some movies reach beyond their imagery to inspire us to take fresh looks at the world we experience and the mirrors we examine. Such films inspire us to reach beyond what we may see on screen to explore how we react with our hearts.

Last year, the New York Film Festival introduced “Roma”, the magical film about a family trying to learn what life can mean as they maneuver through the details of day-to-day life. At first these people, and their routines, may seem less than remarkable, perhaps typical of prosperous families in Mexico City in the 1970s when the film is set. But we soon learn that what burns beneath the surface defines this home, as the grandmother dotes on the children and parents navigate the tension in their marriage.

Holding this collection of characters together is Cleo, a quiet, sincere and loving woman who reaches beyond the household service she provides to be the rock the family leans on. She seems to be everywhere, from cleaning dirty rooms to laundering dirty clothes to absorbing dirty relationships. The family can’t move forward without her support. But when she must deal with her own challenges, she tests the resilience she can bring and the caring she looks to her employer to provide.

Over the years, other movies have told similar stories. And writer/director Alfonso Cuarón is not the first movie maker to draw upon the memories of childhood. Think Federico Fellini. But “Roma” is so fresh in its approach, so expansive in its visual scope, so authentic in its emotional resonance, that we feel we see it all for the first time. This movie is an essential experience for anyone who is curious, thoughtful and committed to the world and its goodness. And who loves movies.

For director Cuarón, who won his first Best Director Oscar for “Gravity” in 2013, “Roma” is another exquisite step in a movie journey and another Academy Award winner. The movie feels, from its detailed opening, like the exploration of memory. In the film’s captivating first moments, Curran uses long takes of the camera to reveal layers of routine, resentment and reality that thrive among the members of a family with too many purchases to fit into an expansive house, too many pets for to be cared for, too many unsaid disappointments to pretend life is happy behind closed doors. Cuarón’s camera examines the hopes and disappointments of these fascinating people as well as the intensity of the crowds they join, lingering on the beauty as well as studying the deterioration. Certain moments feel so real it doesn’t seem possible that we’re watching a movie.

“Roma” is rated R for “graphic nudity, some disturbing images, and language.” The film runs 2 hours, 15 minutes. It is available on Netflix.