Y Tu Mamá También movie reviewY Tu Mamá También review

Y Tu Mamá También

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Y Tu Mamá También
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Starring: Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Diana Bracho
Running Time: 1:45
Country: Mexico/USA
Year: 2001
Web: Official Site
Full of life, sex and death, Y Tu Mamá También is a ripe fruit to bite into and savor. And remember.

Male adolescent sexuality is a subject American movies have never seriously broached. From Porky's to American Pie, our national output consists of awful jokes and are never anything near erotic. While Y tu mamá también is a very funny movie, self-absorbed irony never takes over. Two friends, the upper class Tenoch (Diego Luna) and working class Julio (Gael García Bernal of Amores Perros) have a lot in common when it comes to sex, masturbation, drugs and dating. Competitive and almost like an old married couple (albeit one that masturbates together at the pool and compares penis size) their bond is strong but not unbreakable. Seeing their girlfriends off at the airport, they have complete freedom to enjoy the summer.

At a wedding, Tenoch and Julio meet the stunning Luisa (Maribel Verdú of Goya in Bordeaux), the Spanish wife of Tenoch's arrogant cousin and almost twice their age. With nothing to lose, they invite their Señora Robinson on a road trip to a fictional beach, Boca del Cielo (Heaven's Mouth). The first of many miracles occurs. Luisa, carrying some secrets of her own and ready for an adventure, takes them up on their offer and off they go. What follows is a road trip full of fumbling sex, sensuality and melancholy. To their amazement, they each get to sleep with Luisa (who's most likely amazed at the brevity of their encounters). Rounding out this adventure we see the other sides of Mexico from which the boys are fairly protected: poverty, police harassment and lack of opportunity.

Tenoch and Julio are urban Mexico City youth with bedroom walls covered with Nirvana posters and experimenting with drugs and sex at parties. Their economic and class differences slowly come out. We see Tenoch in a spacious house being fed sandwiches by his Indian maid (whom he called his mother until the age of 4). His parents are very affluent and well connected; the President of Mexico attends the wedding with more bodyguards than guests and vacations are taken in Lake Tahoe. Julio, on the other hand, lives in a cramped apartment with his working class mom. After a big fight their growing self-awareness of each other's social status comes out. Tenoch refers to Julio as a social climbing "naco", meaning white trash, and Julio counters by calling Tenoch's father a thief, exposing the shaky scaffolding that keeps his class above the rest.

However, they are totally united in their pursuit of Luisa and she doesn't really differentiate between them. Her strong presence keeps the boys in line and she shares a lot about herself without revealing all. Her difficult life, struggling marriage and past love are topics the boys can't truly understand, so she shares what they do: sex. She's almost motherly in the knowledge and suggestions she offers each of them and the boys vie for her with increasing jealousy and tension. The stories of Julio and Tenoch's amorphous friendship and Luisa's personal journey cross together in one drunken, languid sex scene involving the three of them whose aftermath is heartbreaking and inevitable.

Amores Perros also featured a Spanish woman, a blond model who covered billboards and symbolized aspirations towards a better life until a disfiguring accident changed hers. Here Maribel Verdú's character fully embraces Mexico. She is the one who befriends an old woman and also becomes close to a fisherman family on their trip. She sees how alive Mexico is. (Could Cuarón secretly be alluding to Spanish cinema, where endless films about the sneaky Catholic priest and the Spanish civil war lack vitality?)

Though alive and joyful, death permeates the film and the reason is more poignant by the end. We see a random death in the streets of Mexico City, an abandoned cemetery, learn about the death of Luisa's first love and imagine how death must feel in the water. Even in the name of La Boca del Cielo Beach (Heaven's Mouth), the allusion to heaven is no mistake. The orgasms of the sex scenes are all little deaths, in a sense, as is the death of adolescence. The frequent voice-overs relate the futures of many people (as well as a surreal group of escaped pigs) and most aren't good news.

The acting of all three is excellent. Both Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal take on the challenge of such risky material and switch easily from bravado to vulnerability. Maribel Verdú brings a wonderful grace to this film and her wise eyes show how her desire for adventure erases her fear. Director Cuarón never exploits them; he only exposes sides that need to be seen.

It's unfortunate that the "NR" rating of Y Tu Mamá También will automatically render it as somewhat more suspicious to an American audience uneasy with an assertive, erotic female but wholly comfortable with a boy simulating sex with a pie. Thank God for Mexican cinema.

  Anji Milanovic
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Y Tu Mamá También