Y Tu Mama Tambien


Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron
Written by:Alfonso Cuaron, Carlos Cuaron
Starring: Maribel Verdu, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Marta Aura, Diana Bracho
Released: August 22, 2002
Grade: A

Many people are adverse to foreign language films but from Mexico, comes a film which shouldn’t be missed.  In the United States, it’s been a sleeper hit with word-of-mouth helping generate a $14m box-office.  If it doesn’t sound like much, you need to consider the fact that the film is in Spanish with English subtitles and showing on about 1/15th the number of screens as your standard Hollywood blockbuster.

Y Tu Mama Tambien’s English translation is And Your Mother Too and I caught it at last month’s Brisbane International Film Festival.  The near sell-out crowd gave the film a very warm ovation and it was voted as the 5th most popular film of the 2002 festival.  Such acclaim and such praise has followed the film throughout the world.

Set in Mexico, teenagers Julio (Bernal) and Tenoch (Luna) have said good-bye to their girlfriends who have departed for a summer holiday in Europe.  Now, they’re hormonally charged and looking for a big summer.  At a lavish wedding they meet a Spanish vixen, Luisa (Verdu), who is engaged to their uncle.  She’s always wanted to see the beach and as boys do, Julio and Tenoch make up a fictitious beach and speak of its beauty to convince Luisa to come on a trip with them.

She decides not to but soon after she finds her fiancé has been unfaithful.  In a haze of confusion and mixed emotions, she calls Julio and Tenoch to accept their invite.  The three of them set off in an old car across the roads of Mexico in search of a beach that doesn’t exist.  It’s a beautiful journey where two stories are being told - one in the foreground and one in the background.

The time Luisa, Julio and Tenoch spend together will change all of their lives forever.  With Luisa acting as a catalyst, they discuss their sexual past and discover their sexual futures.  Shocking admissions are made by all of them which will jeopardise friendships and make the trip something they will never forget.  As the backdrop to this story, they see little snippets of Mexico as they travel across the country.  The film’s narrator acts as both a storyteller and tour guide on our journey.

Without spoiling any surprises, Y Tu Mama Tambien is a remarkable film emphasising the importance of an clever story.  For Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron, it’s his chance to show the world what his country is like and is capable of.  Cuaron has directed two American films, A Little Princess and Great Expectations, and his reputation has been largely responsible for seeing this film succeed.  A lesser director would have not have had the backing to have the film released outside of Mexico.

Cuaron’s style is quite special.  The narrator plays a key role in the film and is used to explain each character’s past as a guide to assessing their motives.  As a snub to suppressing censors, Cuaron has no qualms about showing sex and nudity on screen.  Disappointingly, the film has received an R-rating in Australia.  If you’ve seen the film, you’ll wonder how a film can be banned to those under the age of 18 when shockingly violent films (without sex or nudity) receive a lesser rating.

With seemingly everyone admiring the stylings of Alfonso Cuaron, it comes as no surprise to see him appointed as director of the third Harry Potter film to be released in 2004.  It may look like a gamble but he has the originality to breath life into the series (and it needs it).  Until then, if you’re looking a change in scenery, you are invited to see Y Tu Mama Tambien... and your mother too.