75th Venice Film Festival: Roma Movie Review
A screenshot from writer-director Alfonso Cuarón’s drama, ‘Roma,’ which is playing at the 75th Venice Film Festival.

Title: Roma

Director: Alfonso Cuarón 

Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Carlos Peralta, Nancy García as Adela, Diego Di Cort.

Academy Award winning director and writer Alfonso Cuarón, presents a personal project to the 75th edition of la Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica di Venezia. ‘Roma’ is a black and white motion picture that catapults audiences to Mexico City during the seventies. This is a time and place that relates to the childhood of the director, who gives a snapshot of the political, social and cultural climate of the epoch, by unveiling the story of a bourgeois family and their maid. The Colonia Roma neighborhood becomes the stage of an emotional domestic wrangle and social hierarchy, amidst the “Guerra Sucia (Mexican Dirty War).

After the worldwide success of ‘Gravity,’ Cuarón decided to make a picture that would tribute his origins, as he explained: “While I was finishing my previous film, I promised myself that my next work would be something simpler and more personal. I realized that it was finally the moment in which I could go back and do a film in Mexico, but with all the resources, tools and techniques I’ve acquired over the years.” 

The result is an intimate journey, that has the slow pace of memories, yet possessing the firm grasp with mundane family affairs. In fact, the drama lived by the characters seems to be an allegory of the transformation that Mexico was undergoing — when a series of student demonstrations aimed at promoting democracy climaxed in the infamous Corpus Christi Massacre, carried out by a government-supported paramilitary group known as Los Halcones (the Hawks) that brutally killed almost 120 people. 

Cuarón chose a Neorealistic approach in the selection of his actors, since the protagonist Cleo is played by Yalitza Aparicio, a young woman with no acting experience, who was discovered in a rural village in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Furthermore the entire cast never saw a complete script of the film to encourage an organic interpretation, as the shooting proceeded in chronological order, to disrupt the notion of a pre-rehearsed scene. The result is a cinematic tale that seems extrapolated from original footage of an ordinary family living during the seventies in Mexico’s Roma. 

Technical: A-

Acting: B

Story: C+

Overall: B

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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Writer-director Alfonso Cuarón's drama, 'Roma'
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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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