Roma ★★★★

Yes, that’s the farcical humanism of Fellini’s spirit floating in the reflected water on the tiled garage floor (right next to the dog shit), but Cuaron is Cuaron, and you’d never mistake “Roma” for anyone else’s work. The film is told through the eyes of a lower caste nanny, Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), but the perspective is broadened to see the invisible lines of a vast social hierarchy. “Roma” feels epic and sprawling because of the widescreen composition, and because of all the locales, and because of the contrast, but Cuaron isn’t afraid to show the big and the small. For every virtuoso sequence, there’s a wonderfully small, intimate moment. Wealthy partygoers put out a fire in the fields (in a scene that feels like it fell out of Renoir’s “The Rules of the Game”). The next morning, we see tiny lizards in close up as children pursue them through the smoldering dirt and ash. A martial arts class held in a huge, wide open space suddenly cuts away to show the bucket that holds borrowed Bō poles. An angry sea that seems to dominate the frame (as if swallowing it whole) gives way to the tight huddle of bodies you’ve seen as the film’s Netflix avatar. If nothing else – and it is emotionally overpowering – “Roma” is an unending collection of astonishing imagery. (The monochrome! Everything saturated with perfect blacks, whites and grays!) And Aparicio is incredible here: Reserved, but tireless in her strength; carefully playing along with the classist societal norms, always gracious and always kind. The epitome of the everywoman.

Ben liked these reviews