Mexican films are not that commonly seen outside of Latin America. Last year the fabulously gritty Amores Perros, directed by Alejandro I?itu, was released internationally and starred a young local Mexican actor, Gael Garc?Bernal. Y Tu Mam?ambi?(a.k.a. And Your Mother Too), which broke Mexican box office records when it opened, also stars Bernal, 20 at the time, and 19-year-old Diego Luna, who was last seen in Julian Schnabel’s Before Night Falls.
Director Alfonso Cuar?although Mexican, is a long-time resident of New York and is best known for A Little Princess and his adaptation of Great Expectations (1998). Y Tu Mam?ambi?is the first film he has made outside of Hollywood, and in Spanish, for 10 years.
Cinema-goers are regularly deluged with plastic Hollywood teenage coming-of-age stories. Y Tu Mam?ambi?is the antithesis of Hollywood in its telling of a story about teenage friendship, male hormones, sexual identity and hard-ons. The sex and nudity are graphic (plenty of eye candy for boys) but this does not detract from the story. The script is witty and intelligent in its telling of a coming-of-age story via a road movie and a love triangle.
Cuar?as a light directorial touch in this film and the friendship between the boys, who are also friends in real life, is portrayed in a no-holds-barred fashion and is homoerotic to say the least! Cuar?s not afraid to confront and deal with sexuality and in Y Tu Mam?ambi?he examines the sexual attraction that can occur between male friends that eventually fuels resentment. The two boys in the film also represent different social classes so Cuar?lips in an ongoing commentary about what happens when human nature clashes with class, sexual identity and friendship.
All the performances in the film are impressive and natural, none more so than Maribel Verd? Spanish actress who plays Luisa, the woman at the centre of the love triangle, who is the ultimate guide to adulthood for the adolescent boys. Verd?ts in a delicate performance, full of mystery, grace and style, and in the end she steals the film.
Cuar?sed his regular crew on Y Tu Mam?ambi? including Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezski (Sleepy Hollow). Lubezski shot the film in sequence using only natural light to add to the realism of the story. The film does have its problems though, so there are touches of melodrama on the beach called Boca del Cielo (heaven’s mouth) and the plot unravels at the end. Also, the soundtrack is clunky and the voice-over a little overbearing at times. Nevertheless, it is rare to see a film these days that is a gritty, carnal expos?f sex and secrets, even if it does have touches of a Rough Guide To Mexico.