In the light of today’s BAFTA nominations I had to pull my socks up and watch Roma.
I started it before Christmas but I wasn’t in the mood, it seemed a little dull at the time. But that was probably the time of year I thought.
Tonight I endured its full effect. All 135 minutes of it.
The first 80 made some of the French New Wave’s slower stuff seem like Prodigy videos.
But it got better.
Seriously, I have had more fun in my first job, in which I spent 72 hours extracting staples from booklets.
It is colossally slow.
Literally NOTHING happens.
We see a lot of planes fly overhead and we see a lot, and I mean a LOT, of dogs wandering aimlessly; farm dogs, stray dogs, domestic dogs, stuffed dog heads (that was a good bit). The star dog defecates in an unprecedented manner.
It takes us through Cleo’s – the main protagonist – pregnancy, seemingly in real time.
This is not new territory for Alfonso Cuaron. Here’s what I wrote about his previous feature, Gravity, in 2013.
It is exciting from time to time. But in between the exciting bits (whisper this) it’s a little bit boring.
Just a little bit. But. It. Is. A. Little. Bit. Boring.
But Roma takes boring to Golgothan proportions, to an art form that has no equal. We’re talking stumbling into monochrome art films in art galleries that you walk out of, relieved that you aren’t obliged to sit through any more, after about 12 seconds.
But, heavens above, after about 75 minutes suddenly a great 50 minute featurette emerges from this torpid cocoon and transmogrifies into what a cinematic treasure.
We’re talking games of two halves here like no other. It’s like a football match that’s 0-0 at half time with no shots on target, no corners, throw-ins, bookings.
Followed by the first third of the second half with more of the same, until six substitutions are made simultaneously and the match ends 7 all.
The transition really is that dramatic.
I won’t bore you with the plot (there is none) or the technical details (Cuaron did everything except dolly grip operator – and I’ll tell you what, the Dolly Grip was a busy bunny as Cuaron has more pan shots than a series of Jamie Oliver TV shows).
Cuaron LOVES A PAN SHOT!
So, do yourself a favour. Fast forward to 70 minutes and start watching from there.
You’ve only missed a pregnancy.