OPINION: The movie ‘Roma’ exposes Mexico’s darkest secret

Roma, named after the neighbourhood in Mexico City where writer-director-cinematographer Cuaron grew up

Marcela García  is a member of the Boston Globe editorial board. She has been part of the op-ed and editorial pages since early 2014, and recently came up with an editorial on “Roma”, if you liked the film, you  need to check this out…

ALFONSO CUARÓN’S “ROMA,” up for 10 Oscars, has stirred up much discomfort in both the United States and Mexico. At the very moment when an American president openly refers to Mexicans as rapists and murderers and is willing to destroy his own democracy to fund a wall to delineate quality people from those barbarians to the south, Cuarón challenges every Mexican stereotype. It’s intriguing to think that the director has been mulling over this film for decades; the timing of its release could not be more acute.

Yes, Mexicans can be doctors and book editors. Yes, they can look and act like Americans, with their modern homes and American cars, blond children, and domestic help. Yes, they can throw fancy cocktail parties and have torrid affairs with their colleagues. None of this comes as a surprise to anyone who has been to Mexico City, a thriving metropolis with nearly 9 million people.

But the movie has also fomented the darkest impulses within my native country. And much of this has been missed or ignored by the American media.

The movie centers on Cleo, a young domestic worker who lives with her middle class employers in Mexico City in 1970. She cares and cooks for the couple’s four young children; we watch her from the moment she wakes up to the moment she falls asleep, spending nearly every waking hour attending to the needs of the family who, like their colonial ancestors, walk a tenuous line between unnerving intimacy and appalling tyranny.

The most incisive moment for me — as a native Mexican — in “Roma” was a mistranslation of a specific Spanish phrase in the English subtitles.

Cleo uses a rare day off to make the 14-mile journey from Colonia Roma, an upper-middle class Mexico City neighborhood (known simply as Roma), to Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, then a growing slum on the outskirts of the city built on a filled-in lake. Today, it is home to more than a million people, mostly working class. Cleo is there to confront the man who got her pregnant six months before and then abandoned her. Cleo’s expression is stoic, or is it blank, as she wends her way through the mud of the shanty town where he lives, through unpaved streets, past stray dogs, dirty children, and women struggling to retain their dignity in the face of extreme poverty.

There she finds Fermín’s friend in his underwear and…

CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE BY MARCELA GARCIA ON THE BOSTON GLOBE

 



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