REVIEW: DVD Release: Y Tu Mama Tambien

Film: Y Tu Mama Tambien
Release date: 22nd October 2007
Certificate: 18
Running time: 101 mins
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Maribel Verdú, Marta Aura, Diana Bracho
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Studio: Icon
Format: DVD
Country: Mexico

Director Alfonso Cuarón made a welcome return to the cinema of his native tongue with his first Mexican film in a decade. Having tried his hand at big budget American productions, Cuarón went back to his roots with Y Tu Mama Tambien, a lucrative decision with the film grossing seven times its original budget worldwide.

Opening with a very personal goodbye, the audience is offered a voyeuristic view of Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) going at it with their girlfriends more aggressively than a Duracell bunny on speed before taking the girls to the airport, promising to be faithful whilst they are in Italy.

Realising how much they depend on their girlfriends to keep them entertained, their boredom is temporarily remedied by games of who can make themselves come the fastest. Little do they know that a boring family wedding will provide them with a chance meeting which will keep them amused for the rest of the summer.

Cheekily flirting with a beautiful older lady, Luisa (Maribel Verdú), the boys think they are on to a good think until they discover that the mystery Spanish lady is in fact the wife of Tenoch’s cousin Jano. At this point, the double act seem even more determined to impress Luisa, and begin creating an imaginary beach, la Boca del Cielo (Heaven’s Mouth), in an attempt to seduce her into taking a road trip with them. An apprehensive Luisa politely declines until she receives a drunken phone call from Jano while he is away on business, tearfully admitting to having cheated on her.

The three of them set off through rural Mexico, Luisa blissfully unaware that these boys have no idea where they are going. As if Tenoch and Julio need anything more than the presence of Luisa to keep their spirits high as they aimlessly drive around, the boys boast about their sexual experiences and conquests, pausing to high five each other. Bemused by their comparatively modest exploits, Luisa begins her subtle seduction telling them about her relationship with Jano and her first love. The reality of bedding Luisa is more sexual humiliation than fantasy, shattering the grand delusions they hold about their sexual abilities, and ultimately turning them against each other.

They continue their road trip in absolute silence only talking to throw an underhanded remark at the other until they stumble upon a beach - both surprised, they can’t believe their luck. When they meet a group of locals, they discover that Heaven’s Mouth really does exist, and Luisa remains none the wiser about the lies they told to get her there. When it’s time to leave the beach behind, Luisa announces that she wants to stay, leaving the boys to travel back alone with a now awkward and frosty friendship…

Interestingly, the film is set two years in the past, in 1999, showcasing the realities of living in Mexico both economically and politically. Most notably this era is recognised as being the time when Mexico’s longest political reign was brought to an end when the Institutional Revolutionary Party lost the election to the National Action Party after 71 years. Throughout the film, issues of economy and politics are subtly raised, but always presented as background information rather than having a direct impact on the plot. Tenoch’s father is a political official, important enough to have the president of Mexico as a guest at his daughter’s wedding, and although Julio gets on well with Tenoch’s family, they are political polar opposites. It is revealed at the end of the film that some of the things which the audience have seen during the film have been affected as a result of the change in political power, coincidently it is also noted that Tenoch and Julio are no longer friends. Cuarón has created a powerful backdrop for his film and the imagery of poor, rural Mexico serves to enforce the reality of the boys’ lives.

At the heart of it, Y Tu Mama Tambien is essentially a coming of age story, detailing the, literally, emotional journey of best friends Julio and Tenoch. The film opens with a shot which illustrates both the grounding and the destruction of the boys’ friendship - sex. Cuarón is fearless in his choice of opening shot, which places the audience voyeuristically sneaking into Tenoch’s bedroom as he is having sex with his girlfriend, with a sweaty recklessness which sets the tone for the entire movie. Cuarón certainly took a risk when he made the decision to show such unabashed scenes of sex, although his choice was no doubt influenced by the fact that he had such an attractive cast to work with. All immaturities to one side, Cuarón has pin pointed the attitude most young people have towards sex, the disposability of it, and the way that emotions are ignored until it is you who becomes hurt. Tenoch and Julio are the ultimate horny teenage boys, bragging about their sexual exploits and trying to outdo one another, but their friendship is put to the test as a result. Neither one shows any signs of growing up or taking responsibility, and they are doubly put to shame when Luisa tells them that their manifesto is as meaningless as the sex they have.

Genuinely moving and humorous, but, at times, cringe worthy, Y Tu Mama Tambien reaches beyond its expected audience of young hipsters with a relevance which spans a multitude of ages. Cuarón has managed to present pressing issues in a way which retains a light hearted and enjoyable viewing experience whilst making you think. JHA

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