A review of  Y Tu Mama Tambien” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ****

Rating: Unrated, but could be NC-17 for explicit sexuality. language and drug use.  In Spanish with English subtitles

Run Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

 

 

Contemporary Mexico City is the dramatic social base for this sexually explicit and keenly observed story about coming of age and bringing your raging hormones along for the ride.

Last year’s “Amores Perros” was infused with the same frenetic tension and political subtleties that are distinguishing modern Mexican cinema as a force of the international film scene. The focus is on Julio and Tenoch (Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna), seventeen-year old best friends who see their sexy sweethearts off on an Italian sojourn, anticipating active freelance work for their vigorous libidos.  One from poverty, the other from wealth, the two are nevertheless bound by an impetuous impatience for the pleasures of adulthood. 

A family wedding in Mexico City brings a fresh perspective to the lazy days of summer.  The boys turn their unrefined flirtation skills onto Tenoch’s stunning, twenty-eight year old cousin Luisa (Maribel Verdu), boldly going where many young stallions have gone before.  Fueled by liquid courage and those aforementioned hormones, the boys impulsively invite Luisa to accompany them on an imaginary road trip to the romantic (and fictitious) Boca Del Cielo (Heaven’s Mouth) beach, knowing full well that the journey is nothing but capricious whimsy.

Several days later Luisa receives some devastating news and finds herself in dire need of a change of scenery.  Much to the boys’ dismay (tempered by ecstasy), Luisa tracks them down and accepts their kind offer, offering her share of the gas money and accommodations.  Young and naïve despite their randy posturing, the boys are blinded by the flashing neon sign of potential carnal delights.  On this disquieting note, the fantasy road trip becomes a reality. 

What could have been a vulgar teen comedy is instead an emotionally layered and subtly heartbreaking melodrama under the watchful eye of director Alfonso Cuaron (“A Little Princess”).  Raw and ribald, and awash with humor and pathos.  Once ensconced in a moving vehicle with the sexy Luisa, Julio and Tenoch shift gears from fabricated bravado to the doorstep of self-discovery.  A friendship based on a mutual desire for physical gratification shatters under the weight of  fragile jealousies and flagrant competition.  Luisa –  mother hen, seductress, and untapped free spirit – is the unwitting catalyst behind broken bonds and an inescapable future.

The Mexican landscape hurls past the open car windows, flickering snapshots of social images that tell a studied tale of their own. Informative voice-overs and revealing character details dig deep into the core of the nomadic threesome.  Bernal and Luna, real-life friends since childhood, exhibit tremendous chemistry and a palpable comfort level.  Bernal (“Amores Perros”) is deliciously sultry, gorgeous, and expressive.  Erotic, controversial, and unforgettable.