Y Tu Mama Tambien2001
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Stars: Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal, Maribel Verdu
Release Company: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: R
After Amores Perros signaled the emergence of Mexican cinema Y Tu Mama Tambien clearly established south-of-the-border cinema as a force to be reckoned with. No one knows how to party and have a good time than Mexicans, so as long as Mexican filmmakers continue in the same freewheeling spirit, we will all be enriched. At least as far as films with hedonistic, live-for-the moment themes are concerned.
Y Tu Mama Tambien's opening sets up the frank and bawdy scenes to come, as upper class Tenoch (Diego Luna) passionately has sex with his girlfriend. Soon after, his middle-class buddy Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal from Amores Perros) performs a one-minute quickie with his girlfriend before taking off for the airport. Both girlfriends are spending the summer in Italy, so what are these horny teenage boys expected to do?
Even though they've sworn loyalty, it's not like they haven't explored and exploited sexual conquests before, and not even the mutual masturbatory imaginings on parallel diving boards will satisfy. Their routines become monotonous, and the boys dream of new adventures.
The dialogue is lively and surprisingly modern and real, assuming that upper and middle class teens in Mexico behave much like their northern counterparts. Give director/writer Alfonso Cuarón and his younger brother Carlos credit for creating humorous and realistic dialogue that flows well and develops the characters. The teens continually tease each other with innuendo and profanity that marks male bonding at this stage of life. The title itself plays with this idea, as loosely translated it means “And your mother, too.”
Not only do the boys “talk the talk” about sex, it doesn't take them too long to overcome any natural shyness to engage in sexual exploits—one of the running in jokes refers to their whacking off habits and how they get excited readily.
The writing suffers from too many awkward switches to off-screen narration, but this is done to develop social themes or offer touches of poignancy and melancholy, not easily explained through other means since the narrator is far more aware of the total situation than are any of the three main characters. The difference between the boys' social standing and Tenoch's attitude is first revealed when the narrator states that Tenoch uses his foot to lift the toilet lid when at his friend's home. The final scenes become far more melancholy in tone much like Stand by Me, not for what is shown visually but for what the narrator tells us.
A coming-of-age tale along similar lines to the gay-themed Nico and Dani and Come Undone, the sexual object for both teens becomes the beautiful but vulnerable wife of Tenoch's cousin, Louisa Cortez (Maribel Verdu). At a family wedding, ritzy enough for the Mexican President to attend, the two teens proposition Louisa to come with them to an isolated beach with them called “Heaven’s Mouth” to camp out on the white sands. When she later surprisingly accepts, they desperately try to figure out where they should go.
The weeklong road trip is the real pay-off for the film, fulfilling the fantasies of the teen protagonists. Louisa may be a few years older than the boys, but she shocks them with her sexual openness and soon brutally truthful confessions are made that threaten to destroy the boys’ friendship. Like Summer of 42 the road trip experience becomes pivotal in the teens’ life, and their perceptions are forever changed.
Don’t let the subtitles or film festival awards scare you off. This is not a profound film destined to change your life or make you think much about deeper meanings in life, although touches of socio-economic comments lie in the narration, along with a poignant statement about teen relationships. Tu Mama Tambien’s strengths lie in creating likeable characters and having fun with the verbal foreplay although there is a sexually ambiguous climax that adds another layer to the simple tale. The simulated sex is raw, includes full frontal male and female nudity, and runs the gamut from masturbation, to cunnilingus, to fellatio, to intercourse. But after a number of films that inspire siestas, it’s a pleasure to watch one that feels fresh and alive.