I watched it (Roma) this evening. I had a different experience. More like: Holy. Fuck. This film.
It’s not an exciting film. There’s no denouement, no emotional arc to the film. It’s an absurd film and a mundane one. It’s got a bit in common with Hernandez’s Palomar stories with some of the sensibilities (having just watched this for @Navaronegun’s Qt3 film club) Ozu’s Tokyo Story–banal domesticity mixed with cultural absurdity mixed with quiet desperation mixed with a ragged but heartfelt idea of family. The camera work is absolutely phenomenal: a sharp edged, brightly lit, anti-noir. Many of the shots consist of slow circular pans back and forth. Often the main action in a scene is in the background or even off-screen. There is no score to the film at all–only source music–even during the opening and closing credits, and the sound design is immaculate and crucial.
There’s a way in which the Corpus Christi Massacre (an event in Mexican history I had no knowledge of prior to watching this film) forms a centerpiece of it, but it’s also a MacGuffin. The film is very much about Mexico, in the same way that Tokyo Story is about Japan, but it’s very intimate. Cleo is in nearly every shot of the film, and it’s her response to situations that the camera cares about. Despite the deliberate pace of the film, and the lack of real drama, almost nothing happens the way you expect it to. That is, the plot of the film is much more like life than like the movies. It’s refreshing to watch something that lets a life be a life, that doesn’t need to inject a plot twist or unlikely tragedy, that lets situations be exactly as tense as they are without trying to heighten the tension. Recommended to people who like slow, contemplative, gorgeous filmmaking.
It’s very hard to evoke an emotional response without a score, but there were moments watching this film that I was surprised to find I had tears in my eyes.