Roma Parent Guide
A slow movie that feels even slower, Roma's beautiful cinematography doesn't compensate for its meandering plot.
Parent Movie Review
“No matter what they tell you, we women are always alone.” These words of Senora Sofia (Marina de Tavira) to her maid, Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), sum up the theme of Roma - men cannot be trusted and women need to be strong.
It is true that both Sofia and Cleo need strength for the long haul. Sofia and her four children are abandoned when her physician husband, Antonio, (Fernando Grediaga) moves in with his mistress. As Sofia struggles with her grief and rage, Cleo discovers that she is pregnant. Her boyfriend, Fermin (Jorge Antonio Guerrero), disappears immediately after she shares the news. When she finds him later, he disavows his paternity and threatens to beat her and the baby if she ever comes near him again. The two women react to their desertion very differently – Sofia with anger, fits of weeping, and alcohol consumption and Cleo with a deeper retreat into her natural silent stoicism.
While Roma tells a moving story, it does so at a glacial pace. The film moves very…very…very…slowly. It’s two hours and 15 minutes long, but it feels like it lasts for three. And because the movie is filmed in Spanish with English subtitles, it will feel even longer for viewers who don’t like foreign language films. The production’s narrative arc is weak and the movie feels like a scrapbook filled with scattered memories that only achieve some sort of coherence in retrospect. While I was watching the movie, I kept wondering when a plot was going to turn up.
Roma also comes with some serious content issues that justify its Restricted rating. In one cringeworthy episode, we see Fermin doing martial arts while completely naked: however, this nudity is not sexual. He looks so ridiculous that the scene can’t possibly be titillating to any viewer. But his treatment of Cleo is so cruel that their relationship remains profoundly disturbing and may be upsetting for survivors of abusive relationships. And the scenes of Cleo’s labor are sufficiently detailed that, even though she is covered with a sheet, any woman who has delivered a child will feel sympathy pains while watching her. (Spoiler alert: Cleo’s baby is born dead and this can be distressing for those who have experienced similar neonatal losses.)
The film does have some strengths, particularly its cinematography. The movie is beautifully shot with carefully composed images. And black and white film does wonders for the movie’s 1970 setting in Mexico City. It cleans up the grubbiness of the crowded, dirty metropolis and tones down the garishness of the decade’s fashion and décor. It makes the film feel like a classic right from the start. Roma also stands out for providing a positive (almost idealized) portrait of an indigenous woman. Cleo is the heroine of the film – patient, stoic, self-sacrificing, loving, and gentle. Director Alfonso Cauron’s tribute to his childhood nanny comes through here with a strong sense of affectionate nostalgia. Whether or not viewers share his affection for this leisurely narrative remains to be seen.Directed by Alfonso Cuaron. Starring Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey. Running time: 135 minutes. Theatrical release November 21, 2018. Updated March 19, 2019
Watch the trailer for Roma
Rating & Content Info
Why is Roma rated R? Roma is rated R by the MPAA for graphic nudity, some disturbing images, and language
Violence: A child mentions that a fellow student was shot in the head and killed after throwing a water balloon at a military vehicle. Children play a game with toy guns. A child pretends to be dead and an adult pretends with him. War footage is shown when we see a movie playing in a theatre. An earthquake shakes a building. A homeowner keeps the stuffed heads of his pet dogs on the wall. An employee discusses the death of a dog by poison. A home’s living room is filled with stuffed animals. Adults fire guns in a rural setting. There is mention of a man being killed over a land dispute. A forest fire comes near a home; even children help put it out. A man threatens to beat a pregnant woman and her child if she comes near him again. He yells at her and frightens her. A mother hits her child in a moment of stress and anger. Young brothers fight each other and a heavy object gets thrown through a glass door. There is mention of student protestors being beaten by police. We see riot police in full protective gear. Shots are heard. Rioters run into a store, point guns at shoppers, and kill a couple. A man is shot in the street and we see blood on his shirt and hear his female companion screaming for help. (Spoiler alert: A baby is stillborn and is seen with blood and fluid.) Two children nearly drown before they are rescued.
Sexual Content: We see full frontal male nudity in a non-sexual context – the man is demonstrating martial arts to his girlfriend. A woman is shown in the shower: we only see above her shoulders. Couples kiss in a movie theatre. A woman tells her boyfriend that she thinks she’s pregnant: he immediately abandons her. A woman’s pregnancy, sexual history and menstrual cycle are discussed in a medical setting. We see posters of the female reproductive system on the walls. A woman undergoes a pregnancy exam: she is covered with sheets. A man makes a pass at a married woman. A man abandons his family to live with his mistress. A boy holds up a magazine; his comments indicate that he is looking at a centerfold. A pregnant woman’s water breaks in a store. We see a woman breathing heavily in labor as her vehicle is stuck in traffic. There is a detailed scene of a woman in labor, including a pelvic exam, the delivery of her child, talk of stitches, and a discussion of delivering the placenta.
Profanity: There is minor name-calling between children. The movie features four uses of a sexual expletive, six moderate profanities and two terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A secondary character discusses his past alcohol and drug abuse. Adults drink alcohol socially. A main character drives while intoxicated. A pregnant woman is badgered into drinking alcohol despite her initial refusal. Some minor characters are seen smoking.
Page last updated March 19, 2019
Roma Parents' Guide
Senora Sofia and Cleo are both badly treated by men: Sofia’s husband abandons her and their children and doesn’t pay alimony or child support. Fermin refuses to acknowledge his paternity of Cleo’s child and threatens her with physical assault when she approaches him for help. What kind of laws exist in your jurisdiction that protect women from this kind of treatment?
Related home video titles:
A film about Mexican family ties that can be enjoyed by the whole family is Coco.
Fermin is fascinated by his martial arts instructor. For a more light-hearted family-friendly film, take a look at Nacho Libre.