Jay’s review published on Letterboxd:
Directed by - Alfonso Cuarón
Written by - Alfonso Cuarón and Carlos Cuarón
Starring - Maribel Verdú, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Juan Carlos Remolina, Silverio Palacios, Andrés Almeida, Ana López Mercado and María Aura
Narrated by - Daniel Giménez Cacho
Sex; it’s sticky, it’s embarrassing and – even in these enlightened days of liberalism and pornography at the click of a button – it’s treated like some sort of shameful taboo by a large chunk of society. There are people out there who think sex is dirty and nasty and inherently bad. You know the type of people I mean; bible-belt housewives, religious zealots and angry old men who are so sexually deprived that they simply hate the idea of anyone else having just a little bit of fun. Sex should be kept to the bedroom, they say. It should between one man and one woman and it should be as laborious and pleasure-free as possible, all in the name of procreation. Anything else is a sin.
Now, fair enough, I accept that such beliefs tend to reside at the more extreme ends of the spectrum. Nevertheless, there’s something deeply wrong with a society that treats the most natural and beautiful form of human interaction as something that needs to be regulated and repressed. People who like to have sex with multiple partners – sometimes at the same time - are sluts and whores, whilst those who like to engage in a bit of kink are considered odd. It’s something I’ve always found very weird. Why are sex and sexuality treated in such a muddled and haphazard way? To give you an example, when I tell people that I’m bisexual they laugh because they’ve never seen me with a woman. It’s probably a fair response but it’s quite indicative of the way most people view sexuality. It’s something we as a society just don’t seem to understand. Even the most liberal and open-minded people have a tendency to retreat into an immature, childish and somewhat giddy persona when discussions turn to sex. And, despite my best efforts, I’m no exception unfortunately.
Fear not though, for I have the solution to everyone’s problem. All we need to do is put down the corset, remove the chastity ring, purchase a bit of weed and watch Y Tu Mamá También. This film isn’t just life-changing; it’s actively life-enhancing. This is a film that treats sex, love and sexuality with the respect that they deserve and, as a result, it is totally and utterly mesmerising. It’s smart, sexy, sophisticated, sexy, stimulating, sexy…and did I mention sexy? It’s probably important to note at this point that I don’t mean “sexy” in the grotty, voyeuristic and slightly perverted way that pornography is sexy (and let’s be honest, porn isn’t actually sexy, it’s just sort of… necessary). What I mean is it’s sexy in a way that makes the audience feel sexy too. Everything about it is sexy; the performers are sexy, the dialogue is sexy and, most importantly of all, the sex scenes are incredibly sexy. You might think that the last point is a given but you’d be wrong. So often, sex scenes in films are reduced to some formulaic and pointless fumble between two or more actors who spend the whole time feeling awkward and embarrassed. By contrast, in Y Tu Mamá También you can practically feel the passion pouring out of the screen. Better still, rather than being grotty, it’s beautiful, it’s electric and it’s utterly enthralling.
The beauty of Y Tu Mamá También is that, at its heart, it’s little more than a coming-of-age story. It follows the lives of two friends, Julio and Tenoch (Bernal and Luna), who spend their days drinking, having sex and smoking weed. When their girlfriends leave for a summer trip to Italy, the two boys quickly become bored. One afternoon, whilst at a wedding, the two boys try to impress an older woman named Luisa (Verdú), the wife of Tenoch’s cousin Jano (Remolina), with tales of a road trip that they are planning on taking. They invite her to come with them but she politely turns them down. The boys leave the wedding and their lives carry on as planned. However, after Luisa receives a phone call from Jano in which he confesses to having cheated on her, she phones Tenoch and asks him if the invitation still stands. After frantically trying to get things organised, the three of them set off on a road trip across rural Mexico. Along the journey, each of them learns a great deal about love, life, loss and sex.
However, unlike most coming-of-age stories, Y Tu Mamá También is both intelligent and sophisticated. The script is packed full of conversations about sex, the majority of which are graphic and unashamed, yet this is so much more than three people driving through the desert and shagging. The sex-talk is used to illustrate just how little Julio and Tenoch actually know, and it serves to give Luisa – a smart, funny and absolutely stunning woman – a way to embrace the carefree existence she’s always wanted. Her sexual encounters with both boys are messy and embarrassing though, after each character has learned an invaluable lesson, they ultimately culminate in a passionate and glorious threesome in which each character finally learns to embrace their sexuality properly. Luisa, desperate for attention, tries everything she can to educate the boys, whilst the two boys are so eager and desperate for sex that they finish before they’ve even started, yet by the end of the film, they are truly attuned to the beauty of sex.
Perhaps what I like most of all, however, is not the sex or the passion but the fact that the film is what you might call “Godardian”. Everything that happens is set against a social and political background. Though it might not appear obvious, the film is about so much more than learning about sex. Each of these characters learns about poverty, about friendship and about the fragility and importance of society. The minimal but important sequences of police-authoritarianism and political corruption serve to give us an insight into the problems faced by Mexican society. The rampant sex is just one way through which such issues are alluded to. The two friends – frat boys by nature – are clearly very close; they shower together, they discuss sex all the time and they even masturbate together. And yet, despite this, they are incredibly uncomfortable with male-on-male sexuality. The ending, bittersweet and upsetting though it is, is incredibly telling. After engaging in a stimulating threesome with Luisa, their friendship collapses and they are left bitterly lonely and dissatisfied. The fall of the 71-year Mexican Government that was supposed to signal a great change in Mexican society hasn’t actually changed a thing. The economy might change but that won’t change the innate prejudices and insecurities of society.
There’s no other way to put it; this film is absolutely amazing. It sounds absurd but it has genuinely served to help me alter my outlook on things. Fair enough, after watching these smart and attractive characters having rampant sex and travelling across Mexico without a care in the World, it’s left me seething with jealousy. I absolutely adore it though and am gutted I’ve not seen it until today.
Ps. Did I mention that it was, like, *ridiculously* sexy?