Roma ★★★★½

The beach is now as ubiquitous in Cuarón's films as rain is in Kurosawa's. There is much to digest here, and yet simultaneously so little, like a dream passing in and out of your brain; as in Gravity, the story is so elemental and matter-of-fact it could be described in a single sentence fragment, yet so very individual and telling thanks to the performances and Cuarón's breathtakingly inspired presentation of it, which uses technological resources as a vehicle to the enlivening of memory. It is technically impeccable, jaw-dropping even, but that's never remotely the point. The images are harrowing in their simple forcefulness: the car storming into its narrow storage space, the theater filled with people looking away from the real story, the human body as vehicle of lust and instrument of destruction. Having championed him for twenty years now, I feel as if this is in many ways Cuarón's culmination, with suggestions of nearly all of his prior works and a beautifully respectful exploration of his own childhood (Cinema Paradiso is a trite indulgence in comparison). As usual for Cuarón, it presents strife and terror in a direct way that neither minimizes nor wallows in it, and it builds to a well-justified outpouring in its final emotional crescendo, with proper ambiguity and a sense of pulsing, endless life. But in reality, it's so fully cinematic that no words can explain it, and I think it's really extraordinary. God I wish I got to see it in a theater. I hope it wins everything.

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