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. All teenagers sit in a perpetual state of change as they attempt to discover themselves in an ocean of new experiences, their friendships and loyalties in flux as they define their identities. In the brief and hormonal heat of our teens, everything seems new, even when it’s clear things are changing. Released in 2001, Y Tu Mamá También would usher in a new era for 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 us a story developed with his brother Carlos long before his first feature-length picture, Sólo con Tu Pareja (1991). Y Tu Mamá También is a road trip into the heat, desire, endings and transitions of adolescence. But it is also the story of a woman searching for meaning with two hormonal boys along for the ride. For the boys, the road trip 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 enters 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 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 come 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. As the summer begins, our two perpetually horny teens find themselves free of their girlfriends and in need of adventure. 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 desperation and bravado. 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 trip proposed at the wedding. Of course, Julio and Tenoch never planned to go but led by their penises; they hatch a plan.
Dovetailing the classic coming-of-age movie with a road trip comedy-drama and teen sex comedy, Y Tu Mamá También explores teenage masculinity, social change and escape. It’s a movie that lulls you into a false sense of security 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.
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 often feels improvised as he allows his actors to shape their characters free from control. At the same time, the cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki wraps us in panoramic vistas that defy the intimacy of the conversations and observations we are party to. Here 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. This is a movie where discussions on masculinity, friendship, unspoken love and sexual fluidity never feel the need to attribute simple 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. 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 her chosen path.
BONES AND ALL