Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman both admires and is vaguely irked by Alfonso Cuaron‘s Roma, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy is somewhere between levitated, knocked flat and tickled pink.
“For all its dust and flow and sprawl, there’s hardly a moment in Roma that isn’t orchestrated for our observance from on high,” Gleiberman observes, “and that’s one reason why a lot of people are likely to hail it as some sort of masterpiece.
“Roma is no mere movie — it’s a vision, a memory play that unfolds with a gritty and virtuosic time-machine austerity. It’s a Proustian reverie, dreamed and designed down to the last street corner and scuffed piece of furniture.
“Yet I actually think it’s far from a masterpiece, because as a viewing experience it has a slightly hermetic coffee-table-book purity. Every moment comes at you in the same methodically objective and caressing Zen way.”
“Roma may not be the memoir film many might have expected from such an adventurous, sometimes raunchy, sci-fi/fantasy-oriented filmmaker,” McCarthy allows, “but it’s absolutely fresh, confident, surprising and rapturously beautiful.
“It becomes clear soon enough that Cuaron’s stance here is that of a poetic curator of memories. The shimmering, silvery monochromatic images summon up moments and experiences with crystalline vividness.
“Taking over as cinematographer himself and working without the incomparable DP Emmanuel Lubezki for only the second time in his career, the director here relies upon the use of slow lateral pans to move from one event to another.
“This creates the opposite effect of quick cutaways and reaction shots, producing instead a feeling of the continuity of life, an indication of one experience or encounter leading to another, of everything being related, an establishment of certain events that will ultimately lead to a repository of permanent memories as opposed to evanescent ones.”