Melissa McDowell’s review published on Letterboxd :
The film is gorgeous. No doubts about that. Even the opening scene of tiles being scrubbed down is beautiful. The camera work is dynamic and every shot is so full of details that bring 1970s Mexico City to life. The sound design is perfection - we overhear snippets of the family’s conversations, arguments, etc. as though we are maids in the house, catching bits as we rush by with the laundry. But I wonder if, for me, there was just something a little too clinically perfect here to connect to. Or if the almost universal 5 star raves set my expectations too high.
I think there was something about Cleo’s passivity that didn’t fully resonate with me. It felt like watching things happening to her, rather than us as viewers being truly treated to her POV. Including the Corpus Christi Massacre (though a technically brilliant scene), only reinforced this for me. I’ve read lots of reviews extolling the film for reminding us of the micro within the macro - the small dramas within the larger lens of history. I wish this had been my impression and my feeling watching it. Instead, I just wanted to know and understand more about Cleo, her thoughts and feelings and aspirations. If this film was a love letter from Cuaron to his childhood maid/nanny, it never felt like it shook his POV. It was his impression of her story. Maybe this is where the criticisms around representation come from, valid or no.
It’s a beautiful film. And the beach scene was harrowing and moving. But somehow, I was left wanting.