Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)
Relying only on its beautiful visuals, and leaving the story out of the equation, Roma fails to live up to the hype around it.
I have officially finished watching the group of nominees on the run for Best Picture this year, closing with the one that seems to already have the grand prize in the bag. Fully aware that I'm probably going to stir things up with this review, I'll straight-up start by saying that this film is the definition of overrated -only being beaten by the most overrated film of the year, A Star is Born, but we will get to that later-. If there is an unnecessarily long movie, it is Roma. I understand the criticism towards the people who, like me, did not like Cuarón's latest film, and I share the opinion that it is very difficult to appreciate a slow-paced story in a world where we're used to getting everything immediately. However, I do not think the lack of entertainment is the issue here, rather than the story itself. There are plenty of films where the plot moves forward slowly, but, unlike Roma, that slow pace serves a higher purpose: the story behind it. I really don't understand how this film scored a nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category -where it faces superb stories like The Favourite and Green Book-, when it is essentially an overly extended series of poor dialogues.
I'm not saying Roma is a complete waste of time. The film is, indeed, a work of art in its visuals. The cinematography, as well as the direction, is extremely beautiful, so aesthetically the film is, in fact, a winner. However, this is cinema we are talking about, and I believe what makes a film truly exceptional is the right balance between form and content, the direction and the story, the cinematography and the script. And I think this is what leaves Roma out of the run for Best Picture, in my opinion: the lack of a captivating story. I do not know what Cuarón's purpose was when he decided to take more than two hours to tell such a simple story -let's face it, a lot of the scenes are completely irrelevant in the development of the plot (i.e. the New Year's Eve scene)-, but what I do know is that fancy visuals are not enough to make a great film.
Moreover, the duration of the film is only further detrimental to it, when it made it impossible for me to connect with what I consider to be it's high point: the conclusion. There are two scenes in the movie that I consider to be extremely powerful, the first one being the birth scene and the second the embrace at the beach. Both scenes convey strong emotions in the characters, but I couldn't quite feel anything because, at that point, all I wanted was for the movie to be over. Furthermore, those scenes are the few moments in which I could see strong performances from either Yalitza Aparicio or Marina de Tavira. And this is another con for the movie: I was never remotely impressed by the acting performances. I honestly think the Academy has gone too far in its attempt to finally be inclusive and politically correct. I really don't see how their performances made for nominations. They are good, but that is all, just good. In the end, the film can, in fact, be considered a visual masterpiece. The only problem is I believe a visual masterpiece without a good story will never become a true cinematic masterpiece.