Countdown to the Oscars: Roma

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In the pre-Oscar's last week we present  you this review of Rome, the most nominated film

Countdown to the Oscars: Roma

Rome is the eighth film by Alfonso Cuarón, the Mexican who along with Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro has already entered the Hollywood circuit. This is the first film Cuarón has made since his also very successful Gravity (2013) and the first one he has done in Spanish since Y tu mamá también (2001). Roma was produced for Netflix and debuted on both the streaming platform and the billboard. It has 10 nominations to the Academy Awards and is among the favorites to win the Best Film award.

Leer en español: Cuenta regresiva para los Óscar: Roma

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The world around Rome

While it is true that it is the first film in Spanish and local theme to be nominated for the highest award of the Academy Awards, Rome is not an independent film. It was produced by Netflix, the largest streaming platform in the world and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, a director who moves within the Hollywood circuit at will and who has large budgets for his films. The film was also publicized until the fatigue after winning the Golden Lion in Venice. Thus, it is not surprising that Rome is nominated or that it has been applauded by the critics and by the Academy.

For some, the nomination is a condescending gesture on the part of the Academy to meet a Latin American quota with which it has already been serving some years ( Gravity took 7 óscars in 2013, Birdman de González Iñárritu won the Best Film in 2014 and The Shape of Water by Del Toro took it last year). I believe that this position is in itself condescending. Alfonso Cuarón is not a director of the margin, his films star Clive Owen and Sandra Bullock. Thus, Rome really moves within the same circuit in which the other nominees move, with the difference that it is a movie in Spanish. In this way, far from being the younger brother of Hollywood, Cuarón is taking advantage of his position in the big leagues to write a story in Spanish about the neighborhood in which he lived during his childhood, but above all to tell a very Latin American story. And in this it differs from the other nominated films.

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The infinite twist

Rome tells the story of Cleo, a domestic employee who works for a well-to-do family in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City in 1970. The film explores different angles of Cleo's life: her relationship with her bosses, her love life, her friendships, your life inside and outside the house. During the film we see how Cleo must carry not only her personal problems but also those of her employer and even the political situation in the country. If I have to choose a topic that is about Rome , I would say that it explores love in the relationship of power. And he does not give any answer, he just studies the subject with attention and affection, he goes through it, he makes it complex. You can feel how Rome is personal, without being, as it was said in many media in the run-up to its launch in December, a chronicle of Cuarón's childhood, since its director understands how Cleo's story transcends it.

Near the beginning of the movie we see Cleo washing clothes while the children play. In the middle of the game, one of the children "murders" the other and tells him to stay still because he is dead. Cleo, then, enters the game and lies on her back next to the inert child. Both play to be dead and in that game they have a conversation. In the game, then, Cleo and the child are on the same level, there is a kind of blurring of the power relationship for a moment, an equality, they are peers, both are dead. Cuarón, however, far from being naive, does not let us forget that the real world exists and then Cleo must get up and continue working. And it is this game that Roma plays with us for a couple of hours.

We also see during the film how Cleo must see her employer in vulnerable states: abandoned, desperate, lost, drunk. Cleo, who has also been abandoned, can be seen in her employer for a moment. But, again, in that moment in which both are the same, in which the lady cries out loud while Cleo looks at her, the order returns to reestablish itself with an order from the patron before which Cleo must stop looking at her and run to take care of the children. Thus, the orphanage of the characters, like the game, is the space in which they find themselves and become company.

The film could simply criticize the relationship between the family and Cleo and show how what we sometimes believe love or friendship when we say "it's like family" to refer to the maid is really neither love nor friendship. But, on the other hand, Cuarón complicates this easy criticism and shows in that joint embrace on the beach that gives us at the end that Cleo does love children and children love her too. At the same time, she shows us how Cleo feels guilty for feeling this love that would even lead her to risk her life for children who are not hers, this love mediated by an employment contract. Thus, as the embrace of the beach is tender, it is painful to order one of the children to Cleo to make a liquefied drink.


LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodríguez Pabón

Translated from "Cuenta regresiva para los Óscar: Roma"