Y Tu Mamá También

Y Tu Mamá También

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Two randy teenagers and a sophisticated older woman sounds like orgasmic delight at the box office. Make it a road movie to lubricate inhibition. Make it in Mexico where the colours are strong and the heat pricks your eyes. Is this Jules Et Jim for 21st century romantics? No way, Jose!

After a dalliance in Hollywood for the magical children's film, A Little Princess, and the supra-stylised modern makeover of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, director Alfonso Cuaron returns home for a little handheld realism, as best buddies Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) think, talk and practise sex. These lads are typical teenagers who abuse their parents' trust, cheat on their girlfriends and take life as a glorious gift from the god of good times.

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They are lucky because they don't have to worry about money. Tenoch's dad is a leading politician and a member of the upper-class. Julio's mother is a secretary and his sister an activist at university. Louisa (Maribel Verdu) is from Spain. She lives with a cousin of Tenoch's, a budding author, prone to drink and self-aggrandisement. Tenoch and Julio meet her at a posh wedding reception, where they hit on her for the fun of it. She responds with amusement, quietly flattered, as they talk of going on a trip to a paradise beach in the north of the country, entirely made up for her benefit, and ask her to join them.

A few days later, after an emotional crisis with the cousin, she accepts their offer and so they have to borrow a car and think of somewhere that might resemble a paradise beach. The journey becomes the movie and it is a journey of self-discovery. Although set up as a menage a trois, it doesn't fit the stereotype. The boys may be oversexed, but they are still boys, while she carries a darker secret.

The film loses direction once they settle at the beach, with a friendly fisherman and his family. The boys fall out over past sexual revelations and Louisa is not going to play Nursey. Screenwriter Carlos Cuaron, the director's brother, uses a narrative voice-over to interrupt proceedings and confer trivial snippets of information. This begins to get irritating.

The characters of Tenoch and Julio are beautifully realised by Luna and Bernal. They bring energy and verve. Verdu, remembered as the loveliest of the beguiling sisters in Belle Epoque, is astonishingly cool. She handles difficult sexual scenes with frankness and courage. Louisa remains a mystery and Verdu conveys this well, on the one hand seductive, on the other closed.

The title translates as And Your Mother Too, which in English is forgettable and meaningless. The film is neither. It's fun while it lasts. And afterwards? Y Tu Que?

Reviewed on: 20 Jan 2002
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Y Tu Mamá También packshot
Two randy middle-class Mexican lads go on a road trip with sophisticated Spanish lady
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Director: Alfonso Cuaron

Writer: Alfonso Cuaron, Carlos Cuaron

Starring: Maribel Verdu, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Juan Carlos Remolina, Silverio Palacios, Maira Serbulo

Year: 2001

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Mexico/US

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