Aronne Ibarra’s review published on Letterboxd:
Mamacita, that was pretty good. My immature ass wanted to find something fitting for my 69th first watch of the year so I browsed through a list of some critically-acclaimed erotic films and was reminded of how long Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También has been on my watchlist. Decided to finally give it a go and what started out as a sexed-up road trip film became a paradisiacal life lesson on maturity and the value of relationships, and one that can speak to a whole generation of reckless youngsters.
Going in, I didn’t know what to expect of this film and how horny it was. Well, it’s really horny. The first few minutes alone gives us two teen buddies giving their girlfriends a goodbye love-making gift before the girls’ trip to Italy. Then we get the boys jerking off on diving boards. Then some more stuff. There’s more than a good amount of sex and nudity in Y Tu Mamá También and all of it feels real and intense, but empty. This is where the film starts to turn on its own head. It’s still sexy, yes, but it is more intelligent, profound, and affecting.
Two Mexican boys, Tenoch and Julio, live the fast lifestyle that has come to define the youth-- a fantasy of sex, drugs, alcohol, adventure, and rule-breaking fueled by raging teenage hormones. At a wedding, they meet Tenoch’s cousin’s wife, the attractive Spaniard Luisa, and try to impress and seduce her by sharing their plans to some beach called Heaven’s Mouth. Luisa’s husband Jano tearfully confesses to her that he has slept with another woman. At the last minute, Luisa decides to join the boys on their road trip, discovering new things on sexuality and companionship along the way.
Luisa’s mediating and mentoring role means a lot for the two sex-charged teens who wear a mask of macho to hide from the pain of the reality and the shallowness of the rash youth fantasy. Truths that have been hidden will be exposed, new lessons will be taught, bonds and memories will be created, and people will grow. The randy Tenoch and Julio will know what self-respect and self-control are and why actual relationships formed by love and not libido are the only ones that matter. Y Tu Mamá También also has a deep-reaching take on death and how the life before it can be so easily thrown away for nothing. Basically, life is too short and too fragile to not live and truly love, so don’t waste your good vanilla on just some chick, bro.
Y Tu Mamá También showcases Cuarón's signature one-takes and social commentary. Shot in Mexico, the film looks naturally stunning with idyllic tropical beaches, humble homes and buildings by the roadside, healthy landscapes, and lively urban cities. You’d want to book a vacation to Mexico after this. Throughout the film, there’s lots of Mexican culture and history on display, adding a little more color to the already-alive picture. Shady politics and shaky economy also make their way into Cuarón’s portrait of his home country. Aside from Emmanuel Lubezki’s fantastic cinematography, the soundtrack and script knocked it out of the park, too. Co-written by Alfonso Cuarón and his brother Carlos, Y tu mamá también is realistic, smart, funny, and never fails to surprise. The characters are really interesting and their arcs come through in a subtle but beautiful way.
Magnificent acting by Mexican stars Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna as Julio and Tenoch, and Spanish actress Maribel Verdú as Luisa, whose performance made the film what it was. Sexual energy, maturity, tragedy, and fulfillment-- Luisa had it all and is the film’s most complex character, but without Verdú’s dedicated performance, she wouldn’t have been.
With all that being said, Y Tu Mamá También is a film that deserves the love it gets from the film community, though I had some trouble with the exposition-heavy narration (the sound cuts weren’t bothersome, by the way) and the seemingly-scattered social commentary. While I know these things were creative decisions that enhance the overall storytelling and they do serve their purpose well, I’m not the biggest fan. Still, a great film that may grow on me over time.
A nice choice of what film to see for an occasion that celebrates some silly number indeed. And if you think it’s just some shamelessly sex-crazed road trip, you are mistaken. I may or may not like this more on future viewings but one thing is for sure: this is a Mexican masterpiece that you all should see. That’s it for now and thanks for reading. Stay safe and be horny for the right people, dudes.