Political Film Society - Y Tu Mamá También


PFS Film Review
Y Tu Mamá También

 

Y Tu Mamá TambiénTwo seventeen-year-old Mexico City boys spend a summer together in the coming-of-age Mexican film Y Tu Mamá También, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. When the film begins, their girlfriends are about to leave for a vacation in Italy, though not before one of the boys, Tenoch Iturbe (played by Diego Luna), pulls off a little quick sex. Neither upper-class Tenoch nor lower-middle-class Julio Zapata (played by Gael García Bernal) have a clue what to do during the summer other than hang out together, make ribald jokes about girls, jack off on opposite diving boards of a local club, smoke joints, get drunk, and evade dominant fathers. At a wedding reception, with the President of México as guest of honor, they meet Tenoch's distant cousin Luisa Cortés (played by Maribel Verdú), who is in her late twenties. Luisa has recently come to México with her intellectual husband Jano (played by Juan Carlos Remolina Suarez), who soon leaves for an academic conference. She has no job as yet and expresses interest in visiting a famous beach. The boys, however, make up a story about a glorious beach named Boca del Cielo. One night, drunk, Jano telephones Luisa to confess that he has slept with another woman. Upset that she can no longer trust her husband, Luisa decides to go on an excursion with the two boys, hoping to drown her sorrow in a little fun with the two cute boys. Julio and Tenoch agree with alacrity, try to find directions to a secret beach from their friend Saba Madero (played by Andrés Almeida), borrow a car from Julio's left-wing sister, and head for the open road with Luisa, bound for Oaxaca. During the trip the boys hope to score with Luisa, and she likewise wants them to enjoy a conquest. Accordingly, she gets them to talk about their girlfriends and whether they ever had sex with them, while they learn that she has nothing much in common with her husband, and she mysteriously sobs in her hotel room on the first night. In the morning Tenoch, wearing only a towel around his showered body, asks Luisa for shampoo, whereupon Luisa asks him to remove the towel, and the first lovemaking session begins and ends quickly. Frustrated that Tenoch scored first, Julio waits until they are in their own room together to confess that he once slept with Tenoch's girlfriend, and the two spar verbally all night until Julio begs for forgiveness on his knees. The next morning Luisa perceives distance between the two boys and decides that she must bring them together by having sex with Julio and then by sweet-talking Tenoch. But afterward, Tenoch admits that he slept with Julio's girlfriend, trying to even the score, and the boys clash again. Luisa then gets out of the car to walk away, abandoning their company for the open road. When Tenoch soon begs for Julio's forgiveness on his knees, the two drive up to collect Luisa, who agrees to rejoin them only when told that their destination is near. By chance, they soon take a dirt road, get stuck on the road, sleep in the car during the night, and discover in the morning that the road leads to a glorious beach (in actuality, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca), where they pitch a tent, swim, and accept an offer from someone on a fishing boat to travel to a nearby resort that by chance is near an actual beach named Boca del Cielo. While at the resort, the three get drunk one night. Luisa tells them that their immature sex needs to improve if they really want to please a woman, and she ultimately initiates a threesome. Unexpectedly, the two boys kiss each other passionately while she explores what they have to offer lower down in their bodies, and the two end up sleeping in the same bed. The next morning, the boys announce that they must leave, since Julio's sister needs the car to transport food and medicines to the poor people of Chiapas (in contrast with Tenoch's father, who once profited from selling tainted food to the poor), but Luisa stays, having told her husband that the marriage is over, holding back tears. Voiceovers throughout the film, providing social commentary on each person, now indicate that the two boys did not see each other during their senior year in high school, and they broke up with their girlfriends. One day, however, they meet for coffee. Rather than carrying out career plans to which they aspired when their summer together began, they are now resigned to enter university studies to major in fields (biology and economics) on which that their parents insist, and they appear quite serious in contrast with their happy-go-lucky time together the previous summer. Luisa, reports Julio, died of cancer a few days after they left her, having kept her illness a secret from everyone. Earlier, voiceovers indicated that the operator of the fishing boat and resort was later evicted when the land was developed for a luxury hotel, unable to fish because of the pollution from the new development, and thus forced to work as a janitor in the plush resort. Moreover, as the car travels quickly from México City to a Caribbean beach, sights along the way (what W.E.B. du Bois called car-window sociology) show the poverty of the countryside and the tragedies wrought by irresponsible motorists. Indeed, one must see the film again to perceive the "second México" and listen to the left-wing commentary, though Y Tu Mamá También ("Your mama also," a common riposte for a certain obscenity in México) is also a quintessential date movie. Thus, the theme is that elites run México, if not the globalized world, leaving only evanescent pleasures for the masses as a taste of freedom, a correlation so insightful that the Political Film Society has nominated Y Tu Mamá También for best film on democracy and best exposé of 2002. MH

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