Oscar Nominee: Roma

Max Eguizabal, Writer

Often, calling a film pretentious is meant as little more as a rude insult. A movie with a hot head, with grandstanding, but without any of the importance or substance to back up a masterpiece. I would use pretentious to describe Roma. Not because it was not capable—it was, and very clearly so—but because Roma lacked the final edge. And when a move becomes pretentious, it has to live up to its ego 100% or it will fall flat on its face.

Roma has all the ingredients needed to make a great movie. It is led by an amazing director Alfonso Cuaron, responsible for Gravity and Children of Men. Roma takes place in an often overlooked setting, as it is set in Mexico in the 60’s at the time of the Tlatelolco massacre. And in some departments, Roma succeeded. The cinematography is one of the best on the best picture list and its music is used sparingly but effectively. The performances are amazing, with one of the rarest things in all of cinema: impressive child actors.

The ingredients are all there, but the film still did not live up to expectations, because the pot that holds everything together is broken; the script. The script of Roma is like a Jackson Pollock work; it does hold one’s attention, but it has no structure or point.

The characters that the viewer follows seem to go to hell and back; the Father of the family leaves them, the maid gets pregnant, then the boyfriend who got them pregnant leaves the maid, then the boyfriend who got the family pregnant is left, then the family starts to run out of money with the disappearance of the father, then the baby of the maid dies on birth, then the maid admits she did not even want the baby in the first place. Then the movie suddenly ends, with the Father officially gone, the maid without a baby. Tragedy without direction.

Roma has all the potential to be a longstanding masterpiece, with a fantastic writer/director who had a clear vision for what he wanted, with expressive actors, with unique setting and characters. However, it is evident that while Cuaron is a great director, he lacks skills in the writing department. While Cuaron does make interesting characters that I cared for, the characters lack a coherent plot structure to speak of. Roma is the worst kind of pretentious. Roma has all the ingredients to make a terrific movie and it knows it. But it fails in a crucial area which renders any message nullified. While Roma is one of the best on the best picture list, it is also the most disappointing.