Five years after releasing the $100 million blockbuster Gravity, director Alfonso Cuarón is taking a more stripped-down approach with his upcoming Netflix film Roma, with the first trailer now available to watch.
Centered on a middle-class family in 1970s Mexico City, Roma was written, edited, and filmed by Cuarón, who has referred to the black and white, 135-minute production as the "most essential” film of his career. In July, Cuarón released a teaser clip featuring only a static shot of water washing over tiles, accompanied by the message: “There are periods in history that leave scars in societies and moments in life that transform us.” Whereas Gravity addressed thematic concepts of time, family, and memory, Roma seems to address similar issues, albeit with a much different visual aesthetic and setting.
Today, Netflix released Roma’s first trailer, which organically picks up where the teaser clip left off, and offers more context for the metaphorical cleansing. Complemented by a poignant and melodic score, the trailer mostly features the populated cityscapes of Mexico City, as characters bond with each other before facing political issues in the streets and surrounding rural areas. While Cuarón's cinematography and direction suggests Roma will have an organic and poetic feel - further evidenced by graphics that highlight “love,” “courage,” and “change" - the clip’s most lively sequences address the societal conflict that seems to ground the film’s narrative.
Prior to the aforementioned Gravity, Cuarón directed popular films like Children of Men (2006), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), and the 2001 coming-of-age classic Y Tu Mamá También, which featured a relatively young Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal. All of those films had a certain amount of star power, which makes Roma so intriguing, as it’s entirely devoid of celebrity names - Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira receive top billing as Cleo and Sofia, respectively. But given Cuarón’s directorial appeal and Netflix’s acquisition of distribution rights last April, Roma could indeed change the lives of its main cast - if anything, the film will offer insight into the director’s native land through a unique cinematic lens. According to Cuarón, Roma was “inspired by the women from his childhood and the matriarchy that shaped his world.”
Much has changed in the movie industry since Cuarón’s last high-concept release, and it’s refreshing to see an accomplished director return to his roots. Roma is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival on August 30 and will also screen in select theatres, according to the new trailer. No date has been set for the Netflix release of Roma.