A nice little film this but it is impossibly burdened by the weight of expectation. Not only have I never heard a bad word said about it, I have never heard it discussed in anything other than the most reverential terms. When you watch a film that lots of people you trust have raved about as “the greatest road movie ever made”, then it really has its work cut out to live up to that. For the record, I don’t agree that it is the greatest road movie ever made. But it is probably the greatest film of all time featuring a girl performing simultaneous fellatio on two men. Not that I can claim to have seen many of those to be fair.
Okay then, it’s a road movie in which two teenage friends and an older woman travel to an unknown and ostensibly imaginary beach. It’s a coming of age movie with all of the attendant sadness and humour that this entails. The narrative is pretty standard but excellently conveyed by the director (Alfonso Cuarón). There are great performances from Gael García Bernal (as Julio) and Maribel Verdú (as Luisa) but the trio are a little let down by the comparatively lightweight and obvious Diego Luna (as Tenoch). What I loved most about the film was the closure to the storyline involving Luisa- I’m not going to spoiler it in case anyone reads this- which not only contextualised but also legitimised a couple of the scenes I’d been surprised by (in their nature and, more importantly, necessity). It’s great when a film invites you to think back over what you’ve seen and revisit it from another perspective. Like M. Night Shallowman or whatever his fucking name is would if he wasn’t so shit and transparent and utterly risible, I suppose.
The other thing about Y Tu Mamá También which I thought was fantastic was it’s visual impact. Even the sex scenes, though pretty graphic and often involving fumbling awkwardness of teenagers shooting their load too quickly, were beautifully lit and shot. This, for me, was the best thing about the film. Ooh, stop the press I’ve just remembered where I’ve seen the disappointing Diego Luna before, it was in Gus Van Sant’s Milk where I said “Diego Luna is crap in this. Absolute crap”. Fair enough, now I know he’s always a shitty bag of bollocks I’ll avoid his films from now on.
And (ignoring that digression) though all of the praise above is earnest and deserved, I still have reservations about the film. It is just a genre film, adding in nudity and racy dialogue doesn’t change that, and the ending was pretty flat- I’ve praised the Luisa storyline and as good as that is the Julio/Tenoch storyline simply stops with an air of “I don’t know where this would go next, let’s just kill it”. There’s also a really underdeveloped plotline involving Tenoch’s family’s political influence and the simmering but unacknowledged (other than in one scene) class conflict between the boys. I know that I always look for class conflicts- I’m English, what can I say- but on this occasion it isn’t merely present, it is demonstrated to be a source of latent hostility and inevitable divisiveness and then forgotten again. Even the boys’ eventual parting points to it- they go off to privately and publicly funded colleges- without exploring it. It just feels a bit elephant in the room-y to me. But then I am hyper-sensitive to these things.
Anyway, recommended but over-rated and don’t watch it with the in-laws. 6/10