By Stephanie Zacharek
August 30, 2018
At the beginning of Alfonso Cuarón’s extraordinary film-as-remembrance Roma—playing in competition here at the Venice Film Festival—we meet Cleo, a young woman of Mixteca heritage who works as a servant and sort-of nanny for a middle-class family in Mexico City, circa 1970. In this setting, Cleo, played by first-time actor Yalitza Aparicio, is half visible and half not: In some ways, she’s part of the family. The kids—there are four—clamor to be near her when she sits down with them to watch TV. When the mother, Sofia (Marina de Tavira), asks Cleo to do something, her manner is reserved but polite. The father, a busy doctor who’s mostly absent, from the family and from the movie, complains, off-camera, about her housekeeping. “There’s dog s–t everywhere,” he fumes, and he’s not wrong. We’ve already noted that the family pet freely relieves himself in the house’s small attached garage, and as Doctor Dad eases his enormous Ford Galaxy into the cramped space, the car’s wheels squish the little piles flat, as if to grind them right into the tile floor. Read more.