“Y Tu Mamá También” – Mathew Plale

The first scene of Tenoch and his girlfriend screwing is capped not by climax, but a verbal pinky-swear to not sleep with any Argentineans, Germans, Poles, etc. while she is away in Italy. Next, like Tenoch’s twin, Julio snags an all-too-quick thrust with his lady before she departs on the same plane.


Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael García Bernal) do everything together, sharing smokes, jokes, and strokes—anything to kill a hot summer day. Even a wedding sounds decent enough. It’s here they meet Tenoch’s relative (not blood, to spare incest), Luisa (Maribel Verdú) who wears her promiscuity on her tongue, rather than under the floorboard like most women her age.


The boys, burning the promises made to their girlfriends, slide the conversation with Luisa to the taboo—“Heaven’s Mouth” one of them fumbles out, an off-the-cuff figment brought on by rum and charged libidos. Luisa declines the trip to the supposed beach paradise, but changes her mind the next morning—retaliation towards her cheating husband? A liberation scheme for her and the boys? School them in lessons banned in Western sex-ed classes? No matter, as it won’t push the plot, as there isn’t one.


But you wouldn’t call Y Tu Mamá También “avant-garde.” A pair of binoculars could view it as merely a road movie, while a pair of devout cross-kissers could stamp it “porn.” Be my guest. And though there is a station wagon and cock-and-bush, Alfonso Cuarón’s film is strictly a practical fantasy. And isn’t that what a fantasy is? Painting our imagination so vividly it seems almost plausible, if not for a beat. What teenager, or twenty-something, hasn’t wet-daydreamed about a sexual odyssey on a desolate road with some brewskis, a best friend, and an experienced bombshell that could pass for 30?


This is what keeps Cuarón’s film going; not his and his brother Carlos’ Academy Award-nominated screenplay, or the gas in the wagon, or the interfering narration by an ominous figure that simultaneously reveals the subjects’ backstories and stabs them in the back. It’s the fantasy.


Y Tu Mamá También sweats, sometimes trudges through its Mexican landscapes with frank, real discussion incited by the very aware Luisa, of sexual tendencies, methods, and lists. Perverted? The translation is a boastful And Your Mother Too, but Y Tu Mamá También is no more perverted than a day in the life of any teenage camaraderie—even if Tenoch and Julio’s afternoons are jerked away in a swimming pool and not winded down at Bert’s Music & Videos.


Rating: ★★★½


-Mathew Plale

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