Being a beautiful memoir of Alfonso Cuarón’s childhood, Roma is dedicated to Liboria Rodríguez, the woman who raised the director in a house similar to the one in the film.
Spatiality and how the characters inhabit the spaces bear large importance in creating a meaning, as we feel invited to a gaze in the director’s family photo album. The repeated image of an airplane passing overhead challenges spatiality, as if he has never left the place nor the woman who raised him.
The memoir becomes complete with surrealist elements such as the singing man during the fire, or how the boy tells that he was a sailor when he was older, and died during a storm right before his siblings faced drowning.
“[Jorge Luis] Borges talks about how memory is an opaque, shattered mirror, but I see it more as a crack in the wall. The crack is whatever pain happened in the past. We tend to put several coats of paint over it, trying to cover that crack. But it’s still there.”
His statement in Variety reminds me of the party scene where someone bumps to Cleo while dancing, and we see how the drink fills the cracks on the floor after the glass is shattered.
Car, as a symbolic element, comes up repeatedly in the film. While the father meticulously parks his Ford Galaxie in the narrow corridor, the mother fails to pay such attention. The contrast suggests to a dysfunctional family and the father’s isolation from them. After the boy overhears that his father has left them, he joins his siblings and plays car race with them. Later on, the stone which was aggressively thrown by his sibling hits the car. The Ford Galaxie therefore projects the nonfunctioning family which is about to fall apart.
The new, smaller car the mother buys suggests that she is moving on. While they bid farewell to their old life together with the old car, Cleo joins them to somewhat say goodbye to her lost baby. After the incident at the beach, the hug becomes the first interlocked moment of the new big loving family.
Roma is a delight to watch with every scene being a beautiful piece of photography, together with powerful editing techniques (Remember as Cleo watches the new born babies, an earthquake occurs and the scene cuts to a cross in the cemetery), and beautiful tracking shots that allow us to walk around in the director’s memory.
If you enjoyed Roma, you might also like Fellini’s beautiful autobiographical films; Amarcord and Roma.