Have you ever been to Mexico before? – this is the first question I ask. In case you answer yes, you will discover Mexico in a way the tourists never do, if you say no, you will feel the real Mexico and how is the common life of somebody somewhere in Mexico ‘blessed’ with a harsh everyday situations as most of the Mexicans in the 70´s while political and social changes took place.
Her name is Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), the movie is about her and it is not in the sam time. Neither it is the story of the family she works for as a cleaning lady nor the story of the people surrounding them. It is a mix of many different topics, altogether with a rich historical background that can help us to understand a bit why Mexico is in the way it is.
When you watch Roma, you feel like you were reading a very descriptive book. The photography is mesmerizing and has many elements that crown this movie as one of the best of 2018 and is not a surprise that is the winner of numerous accolades, shined in the BAFTA´s.
The narrative is everything but simple, beautiful photography, artistic, black and white, longshots, profound and detailed but also heartbreaking because Roma is not that kind of film that we are used to in Hollywood.
It is not a sweet and pinkish drama which contains those idealistic elements about the world we dream, it is not about personal growth and becoming rich in the end. The movie is inspired by the life of Alfonso Cuarón´s babysitter, is a tribute for her and everything she did for her family when they were part of the high middle class living in the Roma´s neighbourhood in Mexico City.
When I finished the movie, I could not stand the feeling of invisibility and abandonment, that despites everything Cleo did for the family she worked for, was still the poor cleaning lady and nothing more. They said she was part of the family but the differences were visible.
It is an insight to the Mexican idiosyncrasy, of the classism and racism that always have been a present element, racism of a society which associates beauty only with white skin and blond hair, ironically when most of the Mexicans are “mestizos”(a mix of different ethnicities).
Also, Cuarón slightly introduces and develops a topic during the movie that is evident and the same time a kind of taboo in Mexico: the misunderstood paternity, the absent father figure rooted in the education at home, where men are not responsible for their children so mothers have to raise them alone.
There are certain elements that you do not notice if you are not familiar with the Mexican history, it is better if you comprehend a bit the historical background of the movie to enjoy it, it starts in 1970 and is not because Cuarón likes that year,
in 1971 a horrible historical event called the Corpus Christi Massacre or El Halconazo took place, where the government used the army to kill and disappear the protestors against them.
The movie by itself does not explain neither this event nor its intention, but the fact that Cuarón decided to situate his film in that historical context is important because in Mexico people difficultly has a memory of their past.
Moreover, the movie has an incredibly strong message.
Yalitza Aparicio, who is from an indigenous community in Mexico, the mixtecs, the first time in the history somebody with her profile has appeared in several magazines. Through her fame she is revendicating the real Mexican beauty and making visible those inequalities in our society, she is giving hope for many women in Mexico. Alfonso Cuarón is also getting respect as a director bit by bit with his job, he exposed parts of his life with this movie and recreated what was Mexico in the 70’s.
Written by Karen Mirelly Valle Estrada