Roma (2018): My First Netflix Movie Review (Now The World Has Seen Everything!)

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“Roma” is directed by Alfonso Caurón (Gravity, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), stars Yalitiza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira and takes place during the early 1970s in Mexico City. The movie focuses on a house maid, alongside the owners of said house as they go through their daily lives.

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This movie actually is kind of special to me, because it is a certain type of movie that I have refused to see for years, and that is a Netflix movie. I make fun of Disney all the time, to the point where I wonder if someone dressed as Mickey Mouse would show up at my house and decide to strangle me. But the thing I can respect about Disney is they seem to be willing to keep the movie theater industry alive, even if all they do now consists of sequels, live-action remakes, Marvel movies, “Star Wars” movies, and an occasional based on book adaptation here and there. But the thing about Netflix that drives me nuts is that they already decided to kill the movie rental industry, the physical media industry, and they are still taking some money out of the movie theater industry. Come watch Sandra Bullock execute her most blinding role to date! …IN “BIRD BOX!” Now playing on a headphone jackless iPhone 7 near you! To this day, I have never chosen to sat down to watch a Netflix film, but if you have viewed my last post, I mentioned that this film was playing near me in 70mm, making Netflix look like a slightly bigger force in the cinema industry than I once witnessed. For that reason alone, I was able to forget about my Netflix avoidance for a couple of hours.

And I gotta say, on Netflix, aside from whatever you pay in advance per month, this movie is actually free. I looked at the tickets and found out they were nearly $20 each. But I gotta be real, it was worth every penny. This is one of the best 2018 movies I’ve seen! THE HYPE IS REAL! Alfonso Caurón, the director, writer, producer, cinematographer, and editor behind this film gave his 110% effort on this amazing thing they call a movie. I’ve heard prior to going into “Roma” that the movie happened to be Caurón’s most personal project to date, and it shows! This movie starts out with the camera endlessly gazing upon a floor, and we see water flowing back and forth. I imagine some people would find that as boring as watching paint dry (plus it is in black and white), after all titles are finished, the camera pans up as we see water inserting a drain. Without going into spoilers, and trust me, this is a common theme here, we see the movie end in a similar manner.

I first heard about “Roma” in December, and I’ve heard some people in the industry have found this film to be a true delight. And again, had I not known this was a Netflix movie, I probably would have looked for tickets immediately. But if I stayed away from this movie, chances are I wouldn’t have been able to experience its utter beauty both from a story and technical perspective. The film is shot digitally on an Arri Alexa 65, which is actually kind of interesting to me because the filmmaker chose to present this film in black and white, which is somewhat unique in my eyes for a widescreen movie, usually I think of the full frame aspect ratio when it comes to black and white. Not to mention in certain places, it got a 70mm release as mentioned. This movie managed to blend the feeling of old Hollywood together with new Hollywood in the best of ways.

I will say though, on paper, this movie reminds me of “Schindler’s List.” I say on paper only because I have yet to check out “Schindler’s List” and heard enough about it to realize how traumatizing of an experience it can be to watch such a movie. “Roma” was THAT movie. And I will warn everyone, I have not seen a single trailer for this film. I’ve seen posters, images, but no trailers as far as marketing goes. Aside from those little tiny glimmers of marketing and reviews from other people, I have heard practically nothing about “Roma” itself prior to going out and watching it in the theater. I figured for the sake of getting this review out as early as possible, while also trying to aid in providing the best possible experience for “Roma’s” potential audience, I don’t give a shred of the plot away. If you are curious, there is a synopsis on IMDb, and while I did know about certain things about this film going in, I didn’t know EXACTLY what was going to happen.

I will say though, one of the absolute best parts of the film is undoubtedly the main character of Cleo. For starters, she is played by Yalitiza Aparicio, and if that name does not sound familiar to you, I can understand why. After all, this movie was her debut as an actress, which honestly makes her performance more compelling than it already is. On IMDb, Aparicio is listed to be in “Roma” under “actress” and “soundtrack” and she only has two other credits overall, specifically her appearance at this year’s Golden Globes ceremony and her appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” during one of 2018’s final episodes. The way that Aparicio in this film is able to convey happiness, sadness, regret, calmness, and pain in just a single performance is amazing to me.

Speaking of Cleo’s character, one thing I found interesting is the way she was written in this film, because the character is a housemaid, and while she always has to be forced to do work all the time, she is almost like another member of the family. There are certain scenes where I get a vibe where she is treated like a servant to royalty and others where I get a sense that she is treated like someone who is higher up on the ladder for opportunity. I won’t go into detail, because, again, I have to be vague.

Technically speaking, “Roma” is one of the best films of the year, because it manages to execute a couple of things I don’t traditionally see in a film. From the black and white presentation to the beautiful cinematography to the stellar direction, I was wholeheartedly impressed. Aside from the once mentioned opening and closing shots in the film, “Roma” has numerous scenes which go on for a long time, and they are actually more impressive than said opening and closing. Like, mind-blowing impressive. I honestly have to thank Netflix for actually keeping my people in mind, because if it weren’t for your actions of actually showing this movie in theaters, I would have avoided it at all costs.

In the end, “Roma” is the best Netflix movie I have seen to date!

NOTE: It’s also the only one, so it is also the worst.

Will “Roma” actually get me to buy Netflix’s service? Maybe encourage me to seek out more Netflix content? Perhaps get me to choose Netflix over chilling? No. Maybe the second part would happen should more content from Netflix be put in theaters, but this movie was a surprise if there ever was one. It is nice to see movies that can provide a personal touch, the director of this movie had such a large amount of control over the project to the point where no studio could basically interfere with his work. And what do we get? This. “Roma” had not even a singular, solitary flaw present. Maybe the pacing could turn off some people, but once we get to the twenty minute or thirty minute mark, this movie starts getting GOOD. I also wouldn’t say I’d recommend for everyone to go see this movie. After all, it’s already on your cell phone. But in all seriousness, “Roma” was worth every penny, and it is deserving of a 10/10! Also, Netflix, not to sound demanding, I know physical media isn’t your first idea of a hoot, but I would be willing to buy your movie on Blu-ray should you decide to put in that format. You hear that Netflix? I’m actually willing to buy something from you! Take that into consideration while you can! Thanks for reading this rare Netflix movie review! Speaking of streaming services releasing movies in theaters, Amazon just came out with a film recently and I happened to go see it. Be sure to stay tuned for my review of “Cold War,” coming soon. Also, next week, I am planning to release my nominees list for the 1st Annual Jackoff Awards, the most serious and prestigious awards ceremony of all time! Eat your heart out, Academy! Be sure to follow Scene Before for free with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Roma?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Netflix movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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2 comments

  1. Sue Collins · January 23

    Hi Jack,
    I hope all is well. My mom and I are out to dinner, and she just watched ROMA last night. She is curious what your opinion is about the last scene with Cleo on the stairs? What does she do?! I’m not sure, I didn’t see it! Thanks so much and I hope you love school..
    Sue Collins

    Like

    • SceneBefore · January 24

      If I recall correctly, I believe she was asked by one of the other characters to do a chore. I don’t recall any specifics as to what she was doing. Maybe my answer is completely off, but I have a feeling that would be what she is doing. After all, I mention in my review, cinematography-wise, starts and ends very similarly. We see the camera start very still then pan up, and in the end, it pans up before staying still for the credits. In the beginning, I remember seeing Cleo doing housework, so if we are going down a route of similarity, she would probably still be doing it as the movie ended. Regardless if I am wrong or right however, I probably am going to try to watch the movie again (if Netflix puts it out on Blu-ray), so this answer could change if the ending gains a little more interpretative background than I once thought.

      Like

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