Larry’s review published on Letterboxd:
Life is like the foam.
So give yourself away like the sea.
A coming-of-age drama like no other, Alfonso Cuaron's Y Tu Mamá También is a brazen, poignant and profound meditation on sex, adulthood, maturity and responsibility seen through the eyes of two rag-tag teenage boys whose lives get a new meaning when they embark on a road-trip across Mexico. Sultry, erotic and marvelously entertaining, Cuaron has crafted a film whose themes work on a much more serious level while still providing ample amounts of comedy and meaningful life lessons as we go on a journey of self-discovery with these immature kids and their beautiful passenger.
Julio and Tenoch are two 17 year old urban creatures from Mexico City. The boys are like any other hormone-fueled teenager, sex hungry and rebellious. They pass time swimming, dropping acid, smoking weed with their dopey friend Saba and fucking their girlfriends like rabid bunnies. After they give a final farewell fuck for their loved ones before they depart for Italy, Julio and Tenoch have a little bit too much free time. From masturbating on diving boards in a swimming pool owned by Tenoch's father to driving around a politically unstable Mexico, Julio and Tenoch's lives change when they agree to take a stunning older women named Luisa to 'Heaven's Mouth', a beach they cooked up while flirting with her. They embark on a road trip to the imaginary beach that'll give a new meaning to love, life, sex and friendship to the trio culminating to a ending that's brutally honest but fittingly real.
Cuaron's filmmaking style, still in it's infancy, is stripped down and authentic, never too showy but extremely professional. Apart from our protagonists, Cuaron's script makes way for Mexico to be the real hero. Set against the backdrop of Mexico's political turmoil, the muted narrations by an unknown character is vital to the story, giving us a glimpse of the socio-economic conditions of the characters as well as the world around them. The story blooms in it's transition from a bustling Mexico City to it's rural landscapes, beautifully unveiling a Mexico from it's grassroots, exploring a culture and society that's unseen and untouched.
Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Maribal Verdu are the clear cut stars in this film. To have the boldness and dedication to do these explicit scenes is something that I deeply respect. To have so much passion for the art form is worth the mention. Their chemistry is heartwarming and authentic to watch that I didn't want it to end. It's real to the point I forget it's a performance and it shows Cuaron's strong direction and solid script.
Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography is top-notch. The movie has some very well-coordinated long takes and minimal Stedicam work, giving a documentary style of film. Lubezki's frames are a joy to watch and make it a visual treat despite it's simplicity. The sound design was also very well done and I loved Lubezki's use of mirrors.
'Turned on' isn't the most fitting word to describe what I felt but I ain't lying when I say I was getting pretty hot and bothered while watching this (not my fault). The premise doesn't feel like some far-fetched fantasy that's believable in B-movies. It was grounded and, not gonna lie, pretty hot. But the purpose of those explicit scenes, whether it be self-pleasure or with their respective other, was to develop the characters. Sex is their emotional tether between them. It IS their character arc. Luisa teaches the boys how to love and not to just fuck, how to give pleasure to others and not just yourself and most all, accept their faults and move on. There was a purpose to the sex scenes and that's refreshing to watch.
Apart from the buddy road-trip premise, Cuaron's script, written along with his brother Carlos Cuaron, is dead serious in it's discussion of the political backdrop. The problems that plague Mexico is intertwined in the lives of all the characters whether small or big. We see it in the protests against their government to Tenoch's dad calling the President for his daughter's wedding to poverty-ridden rural folk like Chuy whose life will face great tragedy due to the broken economy. There's more to the film than it's sultry facade and it's point that needs to be told.
All in all, it's a film which you can watch and feel you've gained something. Just like how Julio and Tenoch learned more about life and sex with their intimate connection with Luisa and how Luisa learnt how to be liberated and hold her stand, there is also someone out there, waiting eagerly to change your life as well as theirs too. The ending was sentimental and touching but that's...life, I guess.
Life has it's ways of teaching. Just go along with it.