Y Tu Mamá También (2001) Poster

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fascinating filmmaking
Roland E. Zwick6 April 2002
`Y tu Mama tambien,' a stunning new product of the New Mexican Cinema that is achieving crossover success in the American film market, is a frank, open and uninhibited celebration of teenage sex – masterfully directed by Alfonso Cuaron and beautifully enacted by a trio of first-rate performers. Don't miss it – provided you are not offended by sometimes-graphic depictions of sexual activity (please note that the film is unrated). The matter-of-fact, unflinching way in which Cuaron films his sex scenes purges them of indecency and helps to bring a new frankness to a subject all too often approached by American filmmakers from the angle of tittering exploitation (wherein the directors and writers seem as adolescent in their attitudes as the characters on the screen).

Not so here. The film centers around two boyhood chums, Tenoch and Julio, just embarking on their careers as university students, who, for one last glorious summer, decide to revel in all the wildness, hedonism and promiscuity that carefree adolescence has to offer (the title of the film is emblematic of the youthful immaturity of the characters). With their girlfriends away in Europe, the two decide to take a road trip through Mexico with Luisa, the attractive young wife of one of Tenoch's stuffed shirt cousins. While on the journey, the three of them not only indulge in all the bizarre sexual hijinks that both the situation and their hormones would lead one to expect, but they also learn a thing or two about life, about relationships and about how sex can be used both to bring people closer together as well as to pull them farther apart. For indeed, one thing the film makes very clear both to the characters and to us is that sex can often be employed as a weapon to wound those we care most about, especially with all the power shifting that takes place even in some of the most non-sexual of relationships. The boys also discover that sex can be used as a sublimation to avoid recognizing what one REALLY wants. This awakening leads to a final scene that is almost heartbreaking in its understated poignancy and pathos.

One of the most unsettling – and thereby controversial – aspects of the film (and the one that will make it uncomfortable for many in the audience) is that it refuses to take a moralistic stance regarding its characters' behavior. The filmmakers neither approve of nor condemn what these young people do – they merely record the events with an attitude of detached objectivity that precludes any finger-wagging disapproval. If the characters learn any `lessons' from their experiences, they do so strictly on a subliminal, subconscious level – and the same goes for the audience.

As a director, Cuaron displays a confidence and spirit rarely seen in filmmaking today. Along with his co-writer, Carlos Cuaron, the director has chosen to take an objective, almost documentary-style approach to the material, allowing the scenes to play themselves out in a way that makes them feel realistic, spontaneous and almost unscripted. He uses a shaky, handheld camera much of the time to enhance the immediacy of the experience. We often feel as if we are eavesdropping on the lives of these three fascinating individuals. As a result, not a single moment of the film feels forced, contrived or artificial. (Only the fate of one of the characters seems a bit convenient and contrived). Cuaron is not afraid to let the camera linger on a scene a moment two longer than necessary – nor is he afraid to let the camera wander off on its own from time to time, such as when it spontaneously follows a woman into the back of a roadside café to show us the cooks hard at work in the kitchen. Many of the shots even have an elegiac, travelogue feel to them.

Cuaron has been blessed with three outstanding young actors – Diego Luna, Gael Garcia and Maribel Verdu – who bring his characters to vivid, endearing life. Utterly naturalistic in their every move, gesture and facial expression, the three of them play off each other in such a way that we never doubt for a moment the truth and sincerity of what we are seeing. American actors please take note!

`Y tu Mama tambien' is a stylistic triumph from first moment to last. It has a playful, expansive spirit, as reflected in its openhearted attitude towards sex, its wry humor, its affection for its people and its country, and its visual appeal and inventiveness (Emmanuel Lubezki did the glorious cinematography). The film has heart, soul and chutzpah. What more could a jaded filmgoer want?
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Funny... but above all, a really intelligent motion picture
mdopooh25 July 2001
Alfonso Cuaron is simply one of the best Mexican directors in recent years in Mexican film production. His incredible AIDS-driven comedy, "Solo Con Tu Pareja" was maybe the most funny Mexican picture in a long time, and his always present criticism to the way of life of Mexican people in a city such as Mexico City, is incredible accurate and clever. His other projects in the United States, "Little Princess" and "Great Expectations" were beautifully-manufactured motion pictures, with the help (or support, if you may) of the marvellous photographer Emmanuel Lubenzki ("Sleepy Hollow", and the above-mentioned Cuaron movies). Returning to his home country this time, Cuaron displays such magic and poetic visuals, in contrast with the subtle criticism to the society in Mexico, and the clever and sharp dialogs between the leading stars, using every word young Mexicans use to apply in their conversations.

"Y Tu Mama Tambien" (And Your Mother Too) is, in the surface, a really funny story about 2 friends-almost-brothers, Tenoch Iturbide (an outstanding Diego Luna) and Julio (a really incredible performance for the recent Ariel, the Mexican Academy Award, winner Gael Garcia Bernal, in another excellent portray of a young guy with "issues"), that plan a trip to an imaginary beach, "Boca del Cielo" (Heaven´s Mouth) in order to flirt with a Spanish girl, married with Tenoch's cousin, and portrayed by a credible Maribel Verdu.

But this is only the "surface" of this road movie. In fact, we are dealing with dreams and realities, with social problems and political ones. Tenoch is a young guy living with a millionaire family, son of a wealthy businessman with friends in the highest "stairs" of Mexican politics, with a second name such as Iturbide (one of the most important and powerful leaders of Mexican politic history). And, in contrast, Julio is a middle-low-class guy, living with his mother, brothers and sisters, in a small department, with a last name such as Zapata (a revolutionary leader in Mexican history, with native origins, that took part in the Revolution at the beginning of 20th Century). This is a clever and sharp critic of the different models of living of these 2 friends, and in fact, of all Mexican citizens (I know it, because I'm Mexican, too).

Also, the movie has an excellent narration by Daniel Gimenez Cacho, star of a previous Cuaron film, "Solo Con Tu Pareja", that explains the things we cannot see, but that we can understand and feel. The "subtle critic about Mexican society and traditions" that I have talked about all along this comment, is the one thing that makes this picture go from a funny comedy to an intelligent essay of the lives of young people, social classes, discovery and re-discovery of personality and our own soul, and the final revelation of who we are and what we become when time passes by. In the lives of Julio and Tenoch there is no redemption, but a clear message of their goal in life, their true feelings about friendship, and their sexuality. This road trip is only a pretext to tell a story about discovery and finding our true nature.

Yes, maybe it is a little provocative and bold, but because of these characteristics, "And Your Mother Too" is an incredible motion picture, true to its meaning and compromised with the reality it is trying to show. We care about this people, we care about their problems, and at the end, we care about our own society, and we care about what we have become with time. And the true meaning of the movie's title, "And Your Mother Too", within the narrative of the film, is simply hilarious.

Give this movie a chance, and see it. You won't be disappointed. It has an excellent direction, excellent photography, its is very sexy, it showcases credible performances by all its cast. But above all, it has a real story, real character development, and real power. One great movie from a great Mexican director. Maybe not his best, but really near.
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9/10
Sexually explicit and hilarious, yet at the same time very compelling
mattymatt4ever28 April 2003
I read an article about this movie and some have referred to this movie as a Mexican version of "American Pie." I believe the joke was that it should be called "Latin-American Pie." Now, I enjoyed the "AP" movies, and don't believe them to be crappy movies, but they possess no depth and substance. "Y Tu Mama Tambien" is much more sexually explicit than those two films put together, but it's in no way exploitative. It's a slice-of-life story involving teens, and who's gonna deny that 80 percent of a teenager's life revolves around sex?

The two main characters, though utterly repulsive in nature, aren't totally unsympathetic, like the characters in Larry Clark's "Kids." Through the narration, we get a sense of the characters' backgrounds and why they are the way they are. We aren't simply thrown into this torrent of teenage decadence without a net.

I'm sure very few people will regard this as a comedy, but it's filled with hilarious moments, mostly involving the explicit sexual conversations. Though it leaves you with a sad feeling at the end, it doesn't keep you depressed the whole way through.

As well as being a character-driven youth drama/road movie, it's basically a film about life, most specifically fate and how it works in mysterious ways and how many people live parallel lives and simply aren't aware. I'm not going to pretend as if I wasn't stimulated by the sex scenes, or seeing the Spanish actress who plays Luisa naked, but I didn't enjoy it just because of its sexual content. Too many movies nowadays forbid you the pleasure of going on a character's journey. Too many movies are all about plot, and more specially about plot devices. Screenwriters spend so much time developing plot that character development is put on the backburner. When you get to know the characters this deeply, you're able to connect with them, feel their pleasure and feel their pain. "Y Tu Mama Tambien" is one of those rare, character-driven gems that is definitely worth a trip to the video store!

My score: 9 (out of 10)
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10/10
Simply The Best!
cheriberry18 January 2004
From the recent comments on this film board, it's amazing how people can watch this film all the way through and at the end not have any idea what it was about.

This was quite simply one of the best films I've seen in recent years. Using three central characters -- two immature adolescent males and a young woman in crisis -- set in a road-trip situation, it was hardly a road-trip movie. Nor was it an adolescent movie. Nor was it a woman-in-crisis movie. Nor was it about sex. Instead, what starts out with a sizzling but ditzy prologue becomes something much deeper and much more profound as it goes along. By the end I was breathless and somewhat stunned. The character study is amazing. The societal insights are haunting. The shared humanity it exposes is painful at time but ultimately reaffirming and uplifting. These are three of the most memorable, identifiable and completely human characters I've seen on screen in ages. They taught me more about life and the human species than the last ten movies I've seen put together. I'll not soon forget Julio, Tenoch and Luisa and their eye-opening journey to Boca del Cielo.
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10/10
Three for the road...
jotix1004 April 2002
This is a very different Mexican film. One in which you can really appreciate the sure hand of director Alfonso Cuaron working at the top of his form with an excellent group of actors, which proves that when someone of this magnitude decides to make a good film about interesting characters in contemporary Mexico, one can expect a fine finished product.

Alfonso and Carlos Cuaron have created people and situations that are very believable. The script is fine. "Y tu mama tambien" is about awakening and about reaching maturity. It's a great Mexican Road movie done with a lot of care.

The Cuarons shows us a slice of life that could happen, not only in that country, but one that is universal. Producers and directors in Mexico should see this film and learn how to do future movies, even though the popular taste runs into the horrible soap operas, popular in Mexican TV. The Cuarons have turned out a magnificent script and have turned away from those popular melodramas that are a staple of the film industry of our neighbor to the South.

Gael Garcia Bernal, who was excellent in Amores Perros, here demonstrates once again what an actor can do, given the right scenario and obviously a lot of freedom to give life to Julio. Diego Luna is also very credible in his portrayal of the son of a rich man on the road to discover himself. Obviously, the underlying theme is that both like each other, but it never comes out, as they both are so closeted and think themselves of being straight in such a macho atmosphere.

Maribel Verdu plays the pivotal role of Luisa. She sees right through the boys, but has to play the part since they are the salvation from her miserable marriage. Here as in other Spanish films, she lets us know she is an actress who likes to take chances. This was the right vehicle for her and she takes advantage of a role that makes her outshine the rest of the cast.

One can only hope more interesting things coming from this director and Mexico's gain is our loss, as it's obvious Mr. Cuaron's incursion into American films have not been as satisfactory as his work here.
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10/10
A comment on economics and sexuality
ebritton-15 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Y tu mamá también offers an extreme insight into the rampant sexuality of Mexico's young adults. The film depicts lives of two teenage boys against the backdrop of present-day Mexico. In his film, Alfonso Cuarón not only describes the sexual experimentation of Mexican youth, but he also addresses the impact wavering politics and an unstable economy has on the Mexican people as a whole.

The film takes place in 2001, just one year after the election of Vincente Fox, a member of the opposition party. After about 70 years of revolutionary presidents, Mexican government underwent a radical change during the time of the narrative, as well as the film's release. Mexico has undergone numerous financial fluctuations throughout its history as a country, and recent years have brought along various economic lows. The extreme changes in economy throughout history caused Mexico to have a large separation between each of its economic classes. In his narrative the two young boys who take a journey to a beautiful land with a beautiful woman seem to represent the desires of most Mexicans during this insecure time.

Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) embark on a thrilling journey filled with sexual exploration and an investigation of their inner selves. After convincing the beautiful Luisa (Maribel Verdú) to take a trip with them to an imaginary beach, the trio heads off in search of adventure. Self-discovery ensues when Luisa seduces both boys and convinces them to make love with each other during their last romantic encounter. The raw sexuality displayed throughout this movie seems to encapsulate the uninhibited nature of Mexican youth.

While the full frontal nudity and unashamed sexual acts performed on screen may be disturbing to an American audience, Mexican cinema seems to embrace sexuality with open arms. While they do not leave anything to the imagination, the sex scenes throughout Y tu mamá también are beautifully orchestrated. These scenes absorb the magnificence of sexual attraction and the inhibition that comes along with this temptation.

While the film utilizes the characteristics of raw sexuality at its core, the underlying message of the film seems to encompass the trials of politics and economy within Mexican society. Julio comes from a lower-middle-class family, while his best friend, Tenoch, is the son of a high-ranking politician. As their mental age begins to grow throughout the film, the distinction among their varying classes also becomes clear. It is this distinction that ultimately drives them apart. Cuarón uses the distinct lives of these two boys to comment on the state of Mexico's political affairs. While the large separation between classes is rooted in economics, the separation also occurs within the lifestyles and moral character of each class's constituents.

Cuarón's film Y tu mamá también depicts the raw sexuality apparent in Mexican society, and also indirectly comments on the political atmosphere of the country. Through the use of a compelling story of self-discovery and the beautiful landscapes of the Mexican countryside, Cuarón offers his audience a glimpse of Mexico through the eyes of one of its citizens. While the underlying meanings apparent throughout the film are deeply rooted in the political principles of Mexican society, the narrative of the film introduces a moving story that forces its audience to fall in love with its characters despite their downfalls. On a scale of 1 – 10, Y tu mamá también is definitely a 10.
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Last Tango in Mexico
harry-7617 April 2002
In many ways Alfonso Cuaron's "Y Tu Mama Tambien" reminds me of the desolation theme of Bernardo Bertolucci's "Ultimo tango a Parigi" (1972) and the deceptive perspective of Michelangelo Antonioni's "L'Avventura." (1960).

Raging post-adolescent hormonal drives seem to propel Julio and Tenoch forward, with little else of substance to account for. Likewise, Luisa's motivation seems more despair- than romance-driven. Thus, the trio's trek in search of the idyllic Boca del Cielo is reminiscent of the forlorn lovers' quest for emotional fulfillment in the Bertolucci film.

Comparison with the Antonioni opus stems from Cuaron's script seemingly being about a carefree, liberated trio on a journey for fun, when in fact, it's really about escape from their own worst "enemies"--themselves.

After a particularly talky beginning (complete with abundant narrations) the film settles in on its main theme, and the dialogue becomes more pointed. While the camera work is generally appropriate, Cuaron tends to rely on long- to medium-shots, with nary a close-up.

The result of this is a somewhat distant enactment, in which the viewer is held a bit at arm's length from the action. One seldom gets close enough to become intimately acquainted with these people. In the end, one is touched by important revelations which are crucial to understanding that which has transpired. Yet, the viewer's emotional involvement is perhaps less than what it might have been, given closer perspectives.

This film obviously impressed many people, and I must agree the work by the principles is uniformly solid. This is a "last tango" which has made its mark as a distinctive film work.
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A Mexican masterpiece that's full of youth, ribald sex, politics, economics, and death.
Chris Knipp24 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
(Spoilers)

Alfonso Cuarón's `Y Tu Mamá También' is an instant classic that's bursting with sexy fun, but this Mexican movie about two oversexed boys on the road with a beautiful and sad older woman is haunted by tragedy and history – film history as well as the political and economic kind. It's amazing how Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, as Julio and Tenoch, work off each other: they have a hysterical time, laughing and laughing. I couldn't help wondering if when they shot some of these scenes they themselves may have been high on some of the superior grade `sticky' mota their characters love and praise so much. These frisky pups, so eager for sex, so incompetent and over-hasty when they get the chance, having such a wonderful time with the sexy Spanish lady with the impressive tits, are very real, but quite symbolic: the Mexican upper class and the lower middle class, inseparable and cautiously in love with each other, going to bed with Spain to acquire some sophistication; but wait! -- Spain, Spain is dying, while Mexico, as Luisa (the assured, somber Maribel Verdú) tells the boys, `breathes with life.' It's all haunted by mortality and pursued by corruption, and their summer is the end of an era for them. Back in Mexico City, their sexual tutor is gone and they are no longer friends; it's over, la commedia è finita. Julio and Tenoch have no choice but to act out their social destinies separately, as history decrees.

Alfonso Cuarón and his brother Carlos have produced a movie that is as sophisticated and multi-layered as it is entertaining. If last year's Mexican hit, `Amores Perros,' was a homage (structurally, anyway) to Quentin Tarentino's `Pulp Fiction,' this one is a homage to the French Nouvelle Vague and most specifically to Truffaut's `Jules et Jim,' itself the tale of two different kinds of young men, bosom buddies both, more than a little in love with each other, unified and separated by their far more sophisticated lady love, embodied by the sublime and unforgettable Jeanne Moreau. The voiceovers in `Y Tu Mamá' mimic the same device so often used in many New Wave movies, particularly in `Jules et Jim,' and as in Truffaut's film they are a constant reminder of the fact that this is just a moment in time, that it all ends, and in Cuarón's version, the narrator talks about death, degeneration, road kill, disease, all kinds of disasters that happen around and before and after the events of the charming and ribald little story of Julio, Tenoch, and Luisa. The action freezes during these voiceovers to emphasize the momentary nature of the story and to break the jaunty rhythm with the introduction of an awareness of politics, mortality, and history. This goes well beyond the Nouvelle Vague model and as one writer has put it is as if the `American Pie' DVD had a director's commentary by Susan Sontag or G.K. Galbraith. Sure, this movie is hilariously sexy and ebullient. But there's a whole lot going on here. The Mexican obsession with death is strong in `Y Tu Mamá': the combination of death and vibrant sexuality and love of life is a rich dish for a gringo palate. But this isn't just spicy food: it's a brilliantly constructed movie that works on many levels.

`Y Tu Mamá También' moves with an energetic and liquid flow from the first. This is very assured, almost blessèd, filmmaking. Scene follows scene with imperceptible grace, never held too long, never cut short. The visual rhythm is perfectly sustained. There aren't any wrong notes. The whole cast are constantly alive and right. Bernal and Luna just seem made to act in this film. (Bernal's beauty and his gifts are indicated by his presence in both this and `Amores Perros,' and his receiving Mexico's highest film acting prize.) Cuarón works with a rich palate: his cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, always has a lot going on in the frame. In a road house the camera just wanders off and catches local people, an old lady stiffly dancing to a radio. Mexico is constantly present without being commented upon (the voiceover doesn't belabor the images but augments them; the boys drive by many police roadblocks, oblivious of the repression). The landscapes are subtly beautiful, never conventional. (There's so much going on that I couldn't think of writing about the movie till I'd seen it twice.) But none of the peripheral action and scenery that make the palate of the movie so rich ever distract from the story. All focus is on the story and its irresistible momentum in every single frame, so it's only afterward that you realize the full complexity of `Y Tu Mamá' and the beauty of its imagery. For me images that remain are a short tracking shot that goes over to the window of Luisa's flat and looks down to see her meet Julio and Tenoch and get into the car to go on their journey to the mythical beach; the country club pool, with its wide expanse, and the ranks of elegant modernistic lounge chairs behind a stream of water spraying the perfect lawn; the rich leathery tan of an old lady's face, momentarily glimpsed with a patch of red flower; a lovely shot in a bar, worthy of Cartier-Bresson, showing Luisa phoning her husband through a little window, while in an identical window we see reflected Julio and Tenoch playing a game of hand soccer; the pigs scattering across the beach at dusk and ruining the boys' encampment. Why some critics have called this movie lightweight (or even bothered to drag out the phrase `road movie') I can't imagine; I guess they overlooked the burden of sad knowledge (and the cinematic genius) amid so much happy fun.
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