Instead of the simplicity, however, that colorless films might suggest, Güeros and Roma are movies that embrace the ambiguous. Indeed, it is possible to argue that the image they present of Mexico City is multi-layered and contradictory to such a degree that they are impossible to reduce to succinct description. This invitation to manifold interpretations is frustrating for some. With this in mind, after seeing Güeros, I asked an advanced course on Latin American culture this year how they felt about watching a movie that challenged and pushed them to reach an interpretation that might be impossible. The conversation that ensued illustrated a point: Artistic films like these are understood in personal ways. The complexities and depth of the movies provided space for students to each develop their own interpretations. Their ideas were very different, even flatly opposed at times. In the end, I suppose, their readings of the films reflected more who they were and their cultural baggage rather than the films. In other words, instead of changing forever our comprehension of the movies, the deepest and most valuable insights were personal.
This embrace of the ambiguous is important. Human nature seeks simplification. We prefer life to be clean and neatly organized. Yet the world pushes back, knocking things out of well-defined categories or presenting something that does not fit in any of our pre-established boxes. I used to laugh at the story of Barnes and Noble versus the Bible. Where should they put the Bible in the store? Which section is appropriate? If they put it non-fiction, they will offend some people. Fitting it on a shelf in fiction would satisfy some, but anger others. In the end, they spread it about the story. There is a copy in fiction, non-fiction, even self-help! This anecdote is humorous, but it also illustrates the point: Even as we seek to reduce the world into simplified categories, it resists.
With this in mind, I encourage you to see Güeros and Roma. They are films that at once are excellent and merit criticism. It is possible to say that they are artistic. This is true insofar as art should help us see the world for what it is and thanks to movies like Güeros and Roma’s use of black and white, we can better explore the infinite tones and layers of grey in our multifaceted and contradictory world.