In 2018, the renowned Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón released his latest film “Roma,” a masterpiece that takes place in Mexico City in the 1970s, during a period of political turmoil and authoritarian rule. The film has received critical acclaim for its stunning cinematography, powerful storytelling, and portrayal of social and political issues that are still relevant today.
Set in the affluent neighborhood of Roma, the film follows the life of Cleo, a young indigenous woman who works as a maid for a middle-class family. As Cleo goes about her daily routine of cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the family’s children, she becomes entangled in the family’s personal dramas and the political unrest that is simmering in the background.
One of the most striking aspects of “Roma” is its depiction of Mexico City in the 1970s. Cuarón recreates the city with incredible detail and authenticity, capturing the bustling streets, crowded markets, and colorful buildings that make up the urban landscape. The film also explores the social and economic disparities that exist within the city, as seen through the eyes of Cleo, a marginalized member of society who is often treated as invisible.
At the same time, “Roma” offers a nuanced portrayal of the political climate of the time. The film takes place against the backdrop of the Dirty War, a period of state-sponsored violence and repression that lasted from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. While the violence is not the central focus of the film, it is a constant presence that adds depth and complexity to the story.
The authoritarian government of Mexico in the 1970s serves as a backdrop to the narrative. The film subtly weaves in the political landscape through various events, such as the Corpus Christi Massacre, also known as the “Halconazo.” This brutal crackdown on student protesters was a key moment in Mexico’s Dirty War, which is depicted in “Roma” as part of the larger atmosphere of social unrest.
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of “Roma” is its emphasis on the importance of personal connections and human relationships in the face of political turmoil. Despite the chaos and violence of the times, Cleo and the family she works for form a deep bond that transcends social and economic barriers. Through their interactions, the film reminds us of the importance of empathy and compassion, even in the darkest of times.
“Roma” also delves into the complexities of gender roles and relationships during the 1970s. The film explores the themes of motherhood, independence, and resilience in the face of adversity. Both Cleo and her employer, Sofía, portrayed by Marina de Tavira, struggle with the challenges of being women in a patriarchal society. Their parallel stories depict the universal experiences of women during this period.
Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” is an intimate and vivid portrayal of life in Mexico during the 1970s. The film serves as a tribute to the women who shaped Cuarón’s life while also casting light on the political, social, and cultural landscape of a Mexico under authoritarian rule. With its stunning cinematography, powerful performances, and nuanced storytelling, “Roma” takes its viewers on a cinematic journey that is both nostalgic and profoundly revealing.