Featured in black and white, yet with the rich nuances of light and shade, ’Roma’ depicts the ordinariness of everyday life, as juxtaposed with the extraordinariness of both domestic and political chaos. It is a closer look at how every single day itself is an adventure, albeit with possible encounters of misadventures. Like the alternating waves in the near final beach scene, there is unexpected sudden high tide at times, which however, do eventually subside. Such is the nature of impermanence.
Cleo the family help, despite not knowing how to swim, struggles and manages to save two children in her care from drowning. Set against backlight of the sun, the family hugs one another in relief, gratitude and consolation. It was as if symbolic of unity, with the light of hope shining upon darkness. The family had just lost their Father to an affair, but they now had the reaffirmed selfless love of Cleo, just as the family for her.
Having bottled up her grief from having lost a newborn as a stillborn, Cleo ‘inadvertently’ blurted to all that she did not want her baby to be born… as her conception was accidental, while the Father heartless. Yet, she had just saved two children, as if they were her very own. Indeed, how else can we redeem ourselves, other than to make up for our mistakes best we can, by doing more good than we think we should?
Early on in the film was a Buddha image shown, seated serenely on a bookshelf. But when the family returned home, the Father had already moved the shelf for himself. The Buddha is now seated lower on a stack of books, but just as serene, despite the literal ups and downs, the waves of life. Life is ‘back to usual’, yet transformed forever. When the credits roll, the mantra for invocating peace can be seen – ‘Shantih Shantih Shantih’. May there be ‘peace, peace, peace…’, with less ‘ups, downs, ups…’, the vagaries of life, and despite ‘downs, ups, downs…’, the vicissitudes of Samsara. May all be well and happy always.