Making its debut on Netflix (with a limited cinema release) comes Alfonso Cuaron’s (Gravity, Children of Men) deeply personal film set in Mexico in 1970. This follows the story of a family and their housemaid during difficult political times in Mexico.
The film is primarily told from the perspective of the housekeeper Cleo (the brilliant Yalitzo Aparicio) as she and the family cope with various changes to their life. It felt like a very timely feminist tale, with almost all of the male characters providing the darkness to the story. Tellingly, Cuaron dedicates the film to his own childhood nanny.
Cuaron wrote, directed, edited and produced the film. The camera floats from side to side in beautiful widescreen black and white providing an observers view of the drama throughout. This is a stunning looking work and really puts you into the world of this family and the wider environment. A small film on a grand scale.
There are moments of beauty, horror, violence, tragedy all anchored through the performance of Aparicio. However, I did find the first half of the film to be a bit dull with not much story to push it along. The film is a technically brilliant achievement (especially if you can watch it in 4k) but the pace is too slow and it meant that I never really felt much of a connection to the characters which, in turn, lessened the impact of events in the second half of the movie. Be warned though, there is a very hard to watch scene towards the end of the story.
Having made some criticisms I do feel that this film may grow on me. It does have a quite satisfying payoff for the ending and it has stayed on my mind. I need to watch it again.
Rating – 7.5/10 (this could become an 8 after a bit of time!)
Should you go and see it – If you can find it at the cinema yes. It’s definitely worth a watch on Netflix if you have a 4k setup. I think you have to be in the right mood for it though. It was a different film from what I was expecting and this may have been the problem.