Thursday, December 13, 2018

But I Don't Know If You Know Who I Am

You can hear the sound of the impromptu parade before you see it, but just subconsciously - you don't even notice the insidious sound of the horns and marching until it's cutting through the tender goodbye scene at the narrative's center. But once you see them, with their trumpets and cool hand batons, you realize they have always been there, will always be there, smacking their feet and sounds up and down this street or many a street just like this street, pah-rum-pum-pum-ing blessings bestowed, prayers whispered, cruel jokes twisting in the twists of fate and crowd scenes. 

That's the magic of ROMA, magical ROMA, Alfonso Cuarón's sneaky everything - a sleight of cinematic hand, making you look one way while the card you thought you had your eye on got shuffled up a sleeve, behind an ear, only to then pop out in the most unexpected of places. It's a reordering of expectations, as effortless as foot-falls starting at one place and ending at another - life itself works like this, and it isn't until Cuarón shows it to you so plainly, so magnificently, that you feel it, ache it, life death and everything on both sides, sky and night. Animals baying at parked big cars.

Every time the characters step out onto that street it's something - dog shit, student protests and bloodshed, cigarettes sucked during the pause of a stop-light - chaos and chatter, sweet 70s glamour and dust clouds clotting the sun like snow. Lines of Americans shooting their guns, fireworks setting the world on fire, tidal waves as tall as three children stacked tall. The memory places of ROMA run deep, unforgettable - I feel I lived these lives, caressed Cleo's cheek, clicked my heels across the hard stone coming home from drunken stumblings. ROMA is a part of me now, as here as my thumb - another person's experiences tucked under my toenails, shaved into my scalp. Alfonso Cuarón just tattooed his childhood, my childhood, inside my eyelids, and it hummed as warm as soft white honey.


par3182 said...


Tom M said...

Saw this last night on the big screen and...WOW. You've captured its sly and human brilliance wonderfully. One image that I can't shake today: the main (middle-class) family's child running around in his store-bought space suit, later mirrored by an obviously poor child pretending the same thing with a bucket on his head. Life. Class. Imagination. Limits. And that's just something passing in the corners of the frame.

Jason Adams said...

YES that mirroring is just one of a million things going on, making AC's points without having to hammer anything too hard - such a light, effortless touch while saying so much. I'd keep meaning to measure the film time-wise to see where the exact middle falls -- I keep betting that those two shots fall on opposite sides of the center, and the film goes out and in from them, and I bet there is more mirroring going on