THE INVISIBLE WOMAN : IT first caught attention because It is a film made for Netflix whose Hollywood-based director, Alfonso Cuaron, insisted that it be shown in cinemas.
But if ''ROMA'' was the movie sensation of the last Christmas holiday, it is because it is a superb film, the best to come put of Latin America for years. It is nostalgic look at Mr. Cuaron's childhood in Mexico City, rendered more profound by its examination of his country's deep-rooted-inequalities.

All this is wrapped up in a drama that attains epic intensity. It is also ideal background viewing for the ''FOURTH TRANSFORMATION'' promised by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico's president.

That Mr. Cuaron shot a film set in 1970-71 in black and white gives it a sharper sense of history. It tells the story of his family and is set largely in a big modernist house in Colonia Roma, a comfortable middle-class neighborhood in gentle-decline [but recently re-gentrified]..

''Roma'' evokes a vanished Mexico city, of the whistle of the  knife-grinder on his bicycle and the glamour of vast cinemas.

What lifts the film to another plane is that its protagonist is the family ''muchcha [''girl''], as Mexican call a live-in nanny and maid.

Cleo is a young Mixtec [southern] indigenous] woman from a village in Oaxaca. The role has made a star of Yalitza Aparico a kindergarten teacher and novice actress.

Mr Cuaron's film is this Mexican ''Upstairs - Downstairs'', shorn of sentimentality. When the family spend New Year's Eve in the country estate of friends, as midnight approaches Cleo is ushered down a stairway to a basement to join the carousing servants.

In the Roma house two cast-iron outside stairways lead upwards, but offer no social ascent. One leads to the poky-bedroom Cleo shares with her friend, the cook [the only person with whom she speaks Mixtec]. The other climbs to the azotea, the flat roof where the muchachas do the washing.

''Roma'' subtly highlights the ambiguity of the muchacha role just when it is evolving. Young Latin American women are reluctant to work as live-in-maids, partly because they have better alternatives. The cleaner who commutes to work is becoming more common.

In December last, Mexico's supreme-court ruled that maids enjoy full labour rights.


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