(Netflix Streaming, September 2019) There’s a richness and effectiveness to Roma that quickly sets it apart from countless other lesser movies. This latest effort from writer-director Alfonso Cuarón is cinema as art, filled with top-notch cinematography, clever screenwriting, compelling performances and more than a few directorial tour-de-force. It manages to be compelling viewing despite a subject matter that some would consider to be dull—the life of a live-in servant for a circa-1970 Mexico City upper-middle-class family. In black-and-white, no less. But it doesn’t take fifteen minutes for the film to hypnotize viewers into wondering what’s going to happen next. As the camera pans and tracks over very long shots, thus establishing the cinematographic language of the film, it lulls viewers into a sense of comfortable domesticity that belies the horrors to come. As it turns out, the family we’ve just met has serious issues: the father is about to bolt to his mistress; our servant protagonist gets pregnant from an uncaring boyfriend; and the city is turning ugly as student protests are violently repressed. The placidly panning camera becomes merciless in time for a hospital sequence that leaves no place for the viewer to breathe in relief. As with other Cuarón films, the visual aspect gets a lot of attention, but it’s in service of a strong storytelling intention, this time both serving as nostalgia (and the film does have a few great shots of 1970 Mexico), but also as an undeniable paean to women’s resilience. (It’s not just that the two main characters are women, it’s also that the two main adult male characters are terrible people.) Newcomer Yalitza Aparicio earned substantial attention for her performance here as the stoic protagonist, and deservedly so: she’s the heart of the film, without whom it would collapse in nothingness. The rest of Roma remains exceptionally effective, likely making fans out of viewers who think they have no interest in the subject matter.