The Harry Potter director Alfonso Cuarón weaves a different kind of magic in this warm, witty and very rude coming-of-age story. Translateable to “and your mama too”, Y tu Mamá También follows two teenagers on a road trip with an older woman. Since the very definition of “teenager” is “bored and horny”, it’s a fair guess as to how that will turn out.
Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) are the closest of friends, and their girlfriends have just left to go travelling. They met an older woman at a wedding, and brag to her about a fictitious perfect beach that they plan to visit. When Luisa (Maribel Verdú) learns that her husband has cheated on her, she is upset and agrees to visit the beach with the boys. Thus begins a most unusual road trip.
The journey is filled with booze and drugs, and inevitably both boys end up in bed with Luisa. The sex scenes were highly controversial, though they’re really no worse than what you’d see on Rome. What’s most graphic is the realism – far removed from the soft-focus shininess of other teen dramas – stark in all the awkwardness and embarrassment of youth.
The narrative style is a little jarring, with the soundtrack frequently interrupted to make way for voiceovers explaining each character’s history. Still, it’s engaging enough never to quite be irritating, and the naturalistic acting from the leads is compelling.
It’s ultimately quite a light story, though there are moments of sadness in the more moving parts of the tale. It’s a coming-of-age story, rather like an ultra-x-rated Stand By Me, though I’d guess these boys are 17. The political and social backdrop of Mexico in 1999 is occasionally brought into focus, with the country acting as character in the way New Zealand had the starring role in Lord of the Rings.
Y tu mamá también was critically acclaimed, with almost universally good reviews and numerous awards including an Oscar nomination for its screenplay. It’s well worth seeing, and will undoubtedly rank as one of the weirdest films you’ve seen all year.