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Film

Y Tu Mama Tambien

By Derek Beres
Published October 4, 2005

Y Tu Mama Tambien is a brilliant mirror of life. Filmed in Spanish with English subtitles, it is an extremely accessible and enjoyable journey through the labyrinth of human emotion and the search for identity.

During kindergarten we’re constantly told we can “be anything we want in life.” Somewhere along the line many seem to forget this important maxim. Whether by social pressure, familial bonds, or the numerous other illusions denying humanity its destiny, we fall into the unfortunate category of “just getting by.” A passion is lost; the dream unfolds as ambition turns slowly to fond reminiscence.

One definitive breaking point is undoubtedly high school graduation, captured brilliantly in Alfonso Cuarón’s coming-of-age film Y Tu Mama Tambien. Ingeniously portraying puberty’s final rites against the backdrop of his native Mexico, Cuarón conjures the solitude of boy-becoming-man as well as the inevitable loneliness of our bordering country.

Yet the film is anything but sad, with realizations often tinged with hilarity. The movie opens with the ultimate passage: Tenoch (Diego Luna) making love to his girlfriend, flagrantly consumed as they promise each other not to cheat while she vacations in Italy. A similar scene occurs with Tenoch’s best friend, Julio (Gael García Bernal), this time moments before his girlfriend is due at the airport. Both allegiances, obviously, fail.

The rift begins during a family wedding when Tenoch and Julio introduce themselves to Luisa (Maribel Verdú), a sensual, exotic Spanish native wed to Tenoch’s pompous cousin. Eleven years their elder, Luisa humors the pair when she’s asked to join them on an upcoming beach trip to the imaginary Boca del Cielo (Heaven’s Mouth), and the boys walk away content in their youthful drunkenness.

Playing off the premise, identity is found, and constantly found again: Luisa is as inquisitive of her own self as her new acquaintances. Cuarón shows this tastefully while Luisa is awaiting her doctor, filling out a multiple-choice questionnaire regarding emotional habits and daily quirks. When, a few scenes later, she discovers her beloved has been partaking in extramarital affairs during his business trip, the seams unravel further and the beach becomes a plausible option.

Tenoch’s and Julio’s search is more outright. In between weed-and-Ecstasy parties and a scene where the two masturbate separately on diving boards while shouting out objects of their affection, a broad sense of camaraderie is evoked. When Tenoch receives a call from the anxious Luisa concerning their road trip, reality and imagination begin to merge, though, as life dictates, in ways none of the involved parties would have guessed.

Beneath the surface of their shared friendship, Cuarón delves heavily into Mexican social atmosphere by placing Tenoch as the son of a corrupt politician and Julio of the disparate middle class. Tenoch always lifts the toilet seat with his toes while urinating outside<