This film chronicles a middle-class family in the 1970s who dwell in the Roma neighborhood, in Mexico City. The restrained film is mostly seen through the eyes of the family’s young housekeeper, Cleo who’s viewed as an extended member of the family and she is treated just like one of them.
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Cuarón has spoken of the guilt that likely steered the film’s focus towards Cleo and away from a more explicitly self-centred exercise in recreation. What might feel a little grating, I think, is the attempt to assuage post-hoc guilt through an auteurist reach that, by nature of its content, indulges self-reflexivity.
This may seem like an old argument about the relevance of auteur theory or the inevitability of artistic imitation. It is neither. Imitation or appropriation, like any other artistic approach, can and has been a valuable method of creative practice. Roma, on the other hand, does not acknowledge its debt to this practice, nor its debt to the dialectics of time.