Y Tu Mama Tambien [And Your Mother, Too]

| March 23, 2002

I’ll say it again: Outstanding! Even though released early in 2002 (March 15, 2002 in major US cities), this is sure to be in my top ten of the year. From México, the language spoken on the soundtrack is Spanish, but the English subtitles are excellent, and I urge you not to let this keep you away. Although released unrated, the MPAA would certainly have slapped the dreaded NC-17 tag on it, given their guidelines, and that label might be deserved. There is ample nudity, language, sex and drug use, but none of it is gratuitous. Basically, this is a road movie about two recently graduated male high school friends and their adventures with a slightly older woman. Since the two male lead characters are in their late teens, I suspect that many US teen viewers would enjoy it and seriously doubt that it would damage them.
The forty year old director, Alfonso Cuaron, was born in México and now lives in New York City. He co-wrote the script with his brother, Carlos Cuarón, and also co-produced. Earlier, Alfonso Cuarón, successfully directed the two English language/American films, Great Expectations (1998) and A Little Princess (1995). Although I enjoyed both of these, neither hinted at the raw energy and skill on display this time out. I suspect that he’ll work again and soon.
The cast is perfect. Mexican born, the now 23 year old Gael García Bernal (Amores Perros–2000) is Julio. His best friend, Tenoch, is played by Diego Luna, now 22, and also Mexican by birth. Mr.Luna has a small part in the upcoming Frida (2002). Both of these young men have bright futures. The female lead, Maribel Verdú, was born in Spain about thirty years ago. Although new to me, she has about forty screen credits in her homeland. (Suggestion to leading Spanish director, Pedro Almodovar: Cast her in your next film!) She reminded me of Penelope Cruz (in her good Spanish films) or a young Sophia Loren.
Not surprisingly, the Mexican government is uncomfortable with the film and prevented it from being entered as that country’s Oscar contender for 2001. While it shows Mexico’s favorable/beautiful/affluent side, at the edge of many of its frames, it also touches on the horrible conditions that some of the less fortunate citizens must endure. As our upscale trio travels from the interior to the seashore, the viewer can observe the poverty that they seem unaware of and unaffected by. I was surprised at how regularly the military was shown doing all sorts of random searches and gather it’s not unusual.
I loved the musical soundtrack and the cinematography. Also, an off-camera, voice-over narrator is very effetely employed often and throughout the film. He is unbiased and tells us things that we couldn’t otherwise know, but want to know. While I don’t always like this device, it is used to great advantage here and adds to the overall richness of the piece.I suggest you put this one on your must see list. I plan to see it several more times.

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