London’s review published on Letterboxd:
Love, Drugs, Sex. Road Trips, Dancing, Fighting. What personifies newly found adulthood more than doing whatever the hell you want, no matter the consequences. Driving to a beach that may not exist, flirting with women 10 years your senior. Y Tu Mamá También is a movie that captivates its audience by being so direct, by showing the human body in a beautiful way, and by featuring a whole lot of sex.
The biggest downfall of mainstream media is the dumbing down of Sex scenes. When looking at modern day sex scenes, most of them are tailored to objectification of the female form, and a focus on tits and ass. The vast majority of the time these problematic portrayals are done by Male Directors, because women tend to respect themselves. Even looking at 2019's Portrait of a Lady on Fire, the sex scenes in that were beautiful, and portrayed the participants as stunning individuals, without removing their character and equating them to sex toys.Y Tu Mamá También, I am happy to say, does the same.
What's so great about this is the fact that at the end of the day, a sex scene is one of the absolute most versatile story telling devices you can have in a story. It can express sadness, anger, happiness, deceit, pain, or even a transformation. This movie, with each of its sex scenes, takes a step into further transforming its characters. Not even its sex scenes, but any erotic scene it may have, whether that be a kiss or a jerk off session with your buddy. The idea that the human body is something to be ashamed of or hidden has made it so hard to properly watch these types of films without accidentally falling for that same stigma.
But by god are the sex scenes beautifully framed in how matter of fact they are. It's messy, characters fall over themselves, they are amateur, and they pretty universally suck. But that is just what happens when you are inexperienced. You learn, and they learn as the film continues. The realism practically jumps from the screen, and its because of that perfect realism that I was so easily able to step into the characters shoes. I get it. I get all of their strife. I have been cheated on. I have felt like life has driven off without me. At the end of the day, I find it miraculous I made it past 18, and at the same time every single day I feel the time slip through my hands, like sand in a strainer. It's too finite to hold on to, but that wasted time on relationships that weren't worth it build up to a catastrophic realization of potential I could have had. Of course I don't see my time spent on failed relationships as worthless, but I am able to understand and empathize with that idea.
There are a lot of perspectives I have to take into account when looking at this film. For instance, Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal's characters, Tenoch and Julio respectively, are very young. Younger than me. So a lot of that adolescent stupidity may seem very out of character for me now, but it is absolutely completely in line with me three years ago. That naivety is what makes all three characters so relatable and interesting as characters. Alfonso Cuarón manages to convince the audience that Maribel Verdú, playing the character Luisa is just as naive as the two boys. She started adulthood "too late and met Jano (played by Juan Carlos Remolina) too early. This ghost that follows her, this man she loved so much, it haunts her every waking moment and keeps her from moving on. The only real way for her to learn new things is to expose herself to new ideas, even if they may come from two teenage boys.
I am always a sucker for a great movie with fantastic character development. And this small scale drama is all that is. It's a road trip movie about sex and becoming an adult. It intoxicates you with its beautiful landscapes of rural Mexico, it's dawn of the 2000's style, and it's petty squabbles that personify the teenage experience. I can't tell whether I like the dialogue or the sex scenes more, but the ability to weave them together so effortlessly into such an invigoratingly deep memoir of everyday people is astonishing.
There is a sense of rawness the film has I wasn't expecting. In more ways than one it feels like a first film made by teenagers. It feels as if the characters themselves, as well as the invisible narrator, want to express their own lives onto you. This is no way saying the movie is amateurish in execution or production, in fact every single frame seems to seep with perfection. But it's just so bizarre to me that Alfonso Cuarón was 40 the year this came out, and his brother Carlos was just a few years younger, yet somehow they were able to write teenage characters so well. It's impressive to say the least.
I have only seen two Cuarón films before this: Prisoner of Azkaban and Roma. Both are fantastic films. One is by far the best and most incredible film in a less than incredible series, and the other is beautiful tale of domestic workers, poverty, classism, and motherhood. But even with just two of the films completed, it was very obvious Alfonso Cuarón knows exactly how to tell an engaging yet incredibly patient story. Through the use of quite brilliant long takes, the movie excels at keeping a very constant pace, filled with drama, beauty, love, and loss. Those long takes fucked me up, and I will be thinking about them for quite some time.
It seems like for each aspect of the film, there was one moment that particularly blew me away. In regards to the cinematography, that scene comes in the latter half of the film. Luisa is in a phone booth in a bar, crying on the phone. In this one static shot we are also able to see through a mirror, Tenoch and Julio playing pool. The visual storytelling is so aggressively good in this scene, as it highlights the key differences of the three characters. At the end of the day the boys problems are middling and momentary, while Luisa's are devastating and long lasting. While they all make stupid decisions and ruminate in their naivety together, at the end of the day Luisa is suffering exponentially more than the other two.
It's a masterpiece. I loved every moment of it. The three main performances are so breathtaking it stops feeling like acting from the very beginning and feels so much more personal than that. I am pretty familiar with Diego Luna and already knew the power he held, yet it was still impressive to have him be so incredible at such a young age. When he was in this movie he was a year younger than me, performing what could be argued to be his career defining performance, and here I am at 22 laying in bed eating a bag of chips. I was much less familiar with Gael García Bernal and Maribel Verdú, so I was super excited to hone in on their performances. Both were fantastic to watch, but the more tragic nature of Verdú's role through out the film really helped to give some fantastic moments for her to shine. And she shined like a fucking star.
It isn't just a movie but a love letter to those lost in love, or afraid of it. The last few minutes of the film were expected. I knew it from the very beginning how everything was going to go, but it doesn't make it any less heart breaking. Alfonso Cuarón is incredible, and this movie needs to be seen many many times. If I didn't have to do other things I would be rewatching it at this very moment.