On one level “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (IFC Films) as directed by Alfonso Cuaron is funny, racy, and sexy with scenes shot on some of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches.
The movie is a fantasy tale about the exuberance and excesses of youth as depicted when two friends Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) go on a road trip to the beach with Luisa (Maribel Verdi), the wife of Tenoch’s cousin, who is leaving her intellectual writer husband because of his infidelity.
The lure of watching pretty explicit and sometimes forbidden sex scenes on the screen apparently transcends the difficulties people have with English subtitles, as the movie is drawing big audiences for a foreign film.
But underneath the comic and titillating dialogue the film is about betrayal, isolation, and the corruption of the human spirit.
Luisa calls her husband every night along the road to tell him why she’s leaving him and to remind him to pick up his clothes from the cleaners. Afterwards she cries by herself. She doesn’t share her anguish with the teens but uses their sex to numb out her own pain from her husband’s infidelity and other undisclosed heartbreaks.
Julio and Tenoch’s friendship is sorely tested by adding a third female person to the mix. Other constant companions include weed, beer, and cigarettes. One of the film’s undercurrents is the political and social turmoil preceding Mexican national elections in which the ruling party was thrown out for the first time in more than 70 years and Vicente Fox put in.
As the threesome drive through many small towns to get to the beach we see snippets of flag waving and demonstrations. In one scene two men with guns rob a campesino family on the side of the road while our threesome�oblivious to what’s happening-whiz by in their car engrossed in yet another discussion about sex while smoking weed.
It reminded me of the time a foreigner complained to me that too many American teens wasted their youth getting drunk. In other countries, he said, college students led political movements, challenged corrupt politicians, and were a force to be reckoned with. In the U.S. students seemed entranced by Budweiser.
“Y Tu Mama Tambien” makes subtle commentary on how that aspect of American culture that may be exporting itself to other countries. The battleground for Mexico’s youth is felt when Julio says he’s got to get his borrowed car back home from their bender so that his sister can travel to Chiapas for some political activity.
The film’s website, http://www.ytumamatambien.com is created with the same witty trendiness as the movie. But the film runs into some of the same problems as the highly packaged MTV products it satirizes. The budget gets blown on style while the content of the characters’ relationships is left shallow.
This film is unrated.