The Story/The Direction:
This film takes place during 1970 and 1971 and follows the life of a live-in housekeeper, Cleo (Aparicio), who works for a middle-class family. They love her and treat her like she is part of the family. However, this is not always the case as she is still an employee and she is reminded of that. She is blamed for leaving the lights on and wasting money. One day, Cleo finds out that she is pregnant and soon after her baby's father disappears. However, she can't let this affect her work with her family; she must remain calm and do a good job. She even must try to keep the home a happy place while the family deals with their own drama. This is her story and is she represents Cuarón's old nanny.
Cuarón's film is an autobiographical story from his childhood and the audience sees that in his work. The decision to have this film be completely black and white allows the film to feel like a memory of his. This film comments on the differences between races in Mexico by showing the disparity between a richer Mexican family and the help. The cinematography is amazing showing the audience the details surrounding this world. There is a lot of chaos surrounding the family and Cleo and she still remains fairly quiet.
Cleo is a woman who is silent because she wants to do a good job at housekeeping and taking care of the family. The family adores her as she is good at her job but she does more than that. She takes care of the children and honestly raises them. She is able to keep their lives happy while their family deals with a lot of things. She does this in addition to dealing with her own issues. Aparicio does a phenomenal job at this fairly quiet role establishing her tragic character early on.
The only real flaw is that the comment on the disparity does not push the film forward enough. The first two-thirds of the film is very slow and this message can only go so far. The third act does make the film worth it but to get there is a very tough road to go on.
Honestly, this film is extremely well made and the story is a touching one. However, the pacing of the film makes it hard to recommend for a re-watch. It does have lovely aspects and it is a technically perfect piece of work from Cuarón.
Rating: 4.5/5.0 bowties
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