It’s been five years since the master filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón made a film. That’s too long. But based on the mesmerizing trailer for Roma released today, the wait seems well worth it.
Netflix debuted the first look at Cuarón’s next film, Roma, a Spanish-language, black-and-white film set in Mexico City in the 1970s that’s partly inspired by the Mexican director’s own upbringing. The film, which follows a year in the life of a small middle-class family in the Roma neighborhood of the Mexican capital, is Cuarón’s most personal film ever, according to the acclaimed filmmaker.
It’s his first feature film since he won the Oscar for best director for Gravity in 2013—and that was his first film since he directed the magnificent Children of Men in 2006. Cuarón is particular about choosing his projects, but every time he does, it’s a gift:
Roma marks the rare occasion when Cuarón has not worked with his frequent collaborator, the cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Instead, Cuarón served as his own cinematographer, for the first time. The result appears to be a sensuous, evocative visual journey that still bears some of the signatures of Cuarón’s earlier filmmaking, like his masterful use of long takes and the tracking shot.
Filmed on location in Mexico on 65mm, film purists eager to watch it on the big screen were understandably annoyed when it was revealed that Netflix had picked up distribution rights to the film and would release the film on its streaming service in December. But Cuarón was adamant about making his film available to as many people as possible, and Netflix ensures a wide global release. Being a Spanish-language, black-and-white film featuring unknown actors, Roma was a tough sell to traditional distributors who may not have put the film out in many theaters anyway, executive producer David Linde said in an interview with Indiewire.
Netflix, for what it’s worth, is planning a limited theatrical release for Roma, mostly to ensure it qualifies for awards. The streamer has a promising slate of films for awards season this fall, and Roma might be the best bet of them all. Notably, the end of the trailer mentions that the film is “coming soon in select theaters” before it mentions streaming on Netflix, perhaps hinting that the company plans a bigger theatrical release than normal (it usually releases films in a very small number of theaters on the same day it debuts online to Netflix subscribers). The trailer surprisingly doesn’t include the service’s watermark, which plays over many of its film trailers.