Roma is memory. It is the hard certainty of the testing moments that grind into the senses and the softness of incidents turned into impressions. Alfonso Cuarón has made no secret of the ways in which this drama draws upon his youthful experiences in Mexico, of fractured family and bustling city denizens and the household domestic workers who provided nurturing support. Social unrest buzzes on the borders like a rattling prop plane unseen, hidden by clouds. It is part of the time, but not, informing everything yet having far less import than the day to day childhood skirmishes over toys and snacks. At the heart of the film is Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), maid and nanny, part of the family yet disposable employee. She is loved and gives love in return, but the emotional connection can be put aside with heartbreaking ease when a filthy task needs doing or someone wants the relief of directing their welling anger and frustration at another person. The triggering incident isn’t Cleo’s fault, but she is there. And she is, in effect, professionally obligated to accept indignity. Cuarón directs the film with characteristic visual elegance, recreating his homeland as it was nearly a half-century ago. A clear passion project, Cuarón approaches Roma with a film student’s boundless energy and mandatory versatility, directing, writing, producing, editing (with Adam Gough), and serving as the cinematographer. That comes through in the purity of the film’s expression, the unerring sense that it is as close as a collaborative art form can come to being a singular personal statement. It’s as if Cuarón took the very aura of his past and spun it into cinema.