First Hit: Outside of the beautiful black and white photography and languid movement of the story, I left the theater with little.
This is a personal story. It is one from Director Alfonso Cuaron about his youth and for the person who raised him. Cuaron, raised in Mexico, opens the film with Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) cleaning up a large home in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City.
Cleo is one of two live-in housemaids for Sofia (Marina de Tavira) and Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), the mother, and mostly absentee father of four children. Cleo cares about the house and loves the children.
She meets a young man Fermin (Jorge Antonio Guerrero) who is part of a martial arts group. They spend intimate time together and she gets pregnant. He doesn’t want anything to do with a child and walks away from the relationship.
With Antonio deciding to leave his family, Sofia trying to hold the family together, and Cleo pregnant, the film drops in and out of the stories while framing each of the shots in very well framed sets.
The beach scene, the scene where Cleo visits Fermin’s martial arts class, and the last hospital scene are extremely touching and encapsulate the power of choices and situations of consequence.
Aparicio is excellent as Cleo. Her quiet demeanor and steadfast devotion to the family were wonderfully portrayed. Tavira as the mother was good. The moments of giving up and the moments of taking charge were subtle, yet palpable. Grediaga was OK in his small but pivotal role. The scene of him parking the car in the garage was wonderfully shot. Guerrero was strong as the boyfriend who disowned his relationship with Cleo. Cuaron created a powerfully visual film, but I had difficulty caring about the film in the end.
Overall: This movie seemed like a creation of love, although the audience to feel it might be small.