Y Tu Mamá También is available to rent or buy.
Our lives are full of beginnings, endings and transitions. This is never more true than in adolescence, a period consumed by our own needs even when we think we are considering the needs of others. I am not saying that all teenagers are selfish or insular, but they are in a perpetual state of change as they attempt to discover who they are in an ocean of new experiences. Here their friendships and loyalties are in constant flux as they begin to define their identities. In the heat of our teenage existence, everything seems new, even when the end of one chapter is in sight and a new chapter is just beginning.
Released in 2001, Y Tu Mamá También would usher in a new era in Mexican cinema by taking us on a voyage of self-discovery that would quickly earn cult status. Following several Hollywood films in the director’s chair, Cuarón would return home with Y Tu Mamá También, bringing to the screen a story he had developed with his brother Carlos long before his first feature-length picture, Sólo con Tu Pareja (1991).
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Y Tu Mamá También is a story about the heat, desire, endings and transitions of adolescence. But it is also the story of a woman searching for peace during a time of personal crisis, taking two hormonal boys along for the ride in the process. For the boys, the road trip we take marks the end of their teenage lives and the friendship they forged during boyhood. Whereas for the woman, it marks her freedom from the chains around her as she embraces a new and unavoidable reality. But alongside these personal journeys, Cuarón also explores themes of class consciousness, independence and rebirth as Mexico entered a new phase of social change.
Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) have been friends since childhood. Tenoch’s life is firmly rooted in middle-class abundance and freedom. While at the same time, Julio comes from a far less privileged background. However, while the boys understand this class divide, it has never defined their friendship. But as college and adult life comes into view, the choices available to both boys will ultimately pull them apart, even if they are not yet aware that their friendship sits on a precipice of change. As the summer begins, our two perpetually horny teens find themselves free of their girlfriends and needing adventure.
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When Luisa (Maribel Verdú) meets Julio and Tenoch at a wedding, she views the boys as bold, entertaining and immature young men, their attempt to woo her full of desperate eagerness. However, just a few days later, Luisa’s life suddenly and abruptly changes, leading her to call the boys and suggest that they embark on the road trip suggested at the wedding. Of course, Julio and Tenoch never planned to go on a road trip, but led by their penises, they quickly hatch a plan.
Part coming-of-age movie, road trip comedy-drama and teen sex comedy, Y Tu Mamá También is an exploration of teenage masculinity, social change and escape. It’s a movie that lulls you into a false sense of direction as the teen sex comedy of the opening twenty minutes morphs into a discussion on sexuality, friendship, freedom and vulnerability as Julio, Tenoch and Luisa hit the road.
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The result is a stunning exploration of endings and beginnings as Julio and Tenoch bathe in the final summer of their adolescence alongside a woman who is hurriedly rewriting her life. Cuarón’s movie, at times, feels improvised as he allows his actors to shape their characters free from control. At the same time, the stunning cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki wraps us in panoramic vistas that defy the intimacy of the conversations and observations we are party to. There’s an intimacy in Y Tu Mamá También that is rare in the coming-of-age genre as Cuarón unpicks the teenage male experience and purposefully subverts the foundations of the classic teen sex comedy. Here the film’s discussions on masculinity explore the unspoken love between two young men and the sexual fluidity of youth without ever needing to attribute labels.
Y Tu Mamá También is one of the greatest coming-of-age movies ever made and one of the finest examples of the power of the road trip genre. Here Cuarón’s masterpiece offers viewers something new with every viewing as we travel alongside Luisa, Julio and Tenoch during a summer where two boys shed the skin of their adolescence under the guidance of a woman urgently redefining the road she wishes to travel.
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