| As a 17-year old, I can tell you that most teenagers are
not as obsessed with sex as the main characters in Y Tu Mamá
También. Most. In every high school, there is a kid or a
group of kids who cannot stop talking about their mostly imagined
exploits long enough to chew food. They talk trash about each
other’s privates and spend all day horsing around, going to
parties, and smoking dope. I assume kids don’t differ across
the Mexican border.
The story begins with best buds, Tenoch (Luna) and Julio
(García Bernal), graduating from high school. Tenoch is rich
and the son of a corrupt politician, while Julio is more middle
class. They smoke dope and act like sex-crazed teens, unsure
what they’re going to do next with their lives. While flirting
with married, 30-something Ana Morelos (Verdú), they tell
her that they will be driving to Boca del Cielo for summer.
She decides to tag along. But Boca del Cielo was just a name
that they made up. The ensuing trip is a tale of class distinction,
jealousy, sex, and Mexico.
Such a tale would be dead on arrival without strong acting.
Fortunately, the protagonists are superb. The two boys embody
the spirit of awkward sexuality. They boast and brag and flirt,
but when it comes down to it, they’re as inexperienced as
any teenager. They are neither intelligent nor dumb, but rather,
directionless. They seem to be stumbling out of the high school’s
gate and they don’t want to try and get back into the race.
Ana plays the role of their sexual desire. At first, you can
feel her standoffish mood, as she is uncomfortable flirting
with boys. Then you can see her slowly transform as she learns
that she has the two eating out of the palm of her hand. And
behind the sex game, lies a profound sense of pain and deep
hurt. Some of the most powerful moments of the film are the
shots her crying, retching, in emotional agony.
Eventually, the trio discovers how badly sex can burn you
if done carelessly. The class separation between the friends
fuels their distrust. The tried-and-true theme of jealousy
destroying relationships continues in this movie. But the
strongest theme, and my personal favorite part of the movie,
is Mexico. Periodically, the sound will drop out in the movie,
and narrator’s voice will explain some background or plot
detail that you cannot see on-screen. These narrations make
for a few blissful moments of insight into Mexican politics,
society, and landscape. Juxtaposed against the drama of the
story, they give a broad portrait of how things are. It really
puts the entire film into perspective and elevates the movie
from good to fantastic.
Mexico also never looked better. The cinematography captures
the dusty heat and rolling hills. There are some particularly
impressive tracking shots (look for the one in the car) and
a handful of wonderfully cinematic moments (the pigs exiting
the camp). The movie is evenly edited and well written. The
only plot hold-up is the all too quick and clichéd ending
for Ana. Aside from that, the whole movie gets a high recommendation.
Lastly, another note about the sex. If you dislike graphic
sex or get squeamish at the sight of naked body, don’t go
to this movie. You will spend the entire movie blushing like
the sun and end up resenting the picture for its forward nature.
Also, the movie will probably get an NC-17. If you’re under
17, do not go see this movie with your parents. Get a stranger
to buy your ticket or something. You do not want to submit
yourself to that type of torture.