I seem to be drawn to Spanish and Latin American cinema more than any other. Y tu Mamá También or “And Your Mother Too” is a Mexican film directed by Alfonso Cuáron of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) fame. But more recently, he is known for being the director of Gravity (2013). One thing I can tell you about this director: an auteur, this guy is not.
The first time I was introduced to Spanish cinema was when I studied film for A Level and watched Pedro Almodóvar’s Talk to Her (2002). I adored that film. I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to pull apart it’s layers and understand the themes going on underneath. Almodóvar’s films had a maternal and female focus. They dealt with a plethora of sexual fantasies and desires such as the body as a scientific and infinitive being. He brought all of this into a real world, but in a way that would seem melodramatic or crass in British film. They are generally politically themed and they are bright and joyous beings. An auteur, Almodóvar definitely is.
Put some nice saturations over Y tu Mamá También and a few more light hearted moments and you’d be forgiven if you thought the film was an Almodóvar. Despite the fact Mexico and Spain are two very different countries and I won’t forget it. The opening scene displays two teenagers butt-naked rolling around on a bed whilst the girl promises the guy she won’t cheat on him with men from various different nationalities. Immediately, a small part of the narrative, the political themes and the exploration of sexual desire are evident.
The male in question is is Tenoch and the female is his girlfriend Ana. Ana and her friend Ceci (who’s boyfriend Julio also happens to be BFFs with Tenoch) are going travelling for the summer. They are leaving their promiscuous boyfriends back in Mexico to smoke weed, go to parties, get drunk and all sorts of other “extra-curricular activities” that alludes to the kind of friendship the boys have developed.
Tenoch’s father is a Politician so he has never been without. Julio lives with his single working-class mother and political activist sister. Mexico is currently dealing with an array protests and revolutions rampant. A revolution that would end the one-party system Mexico had been Governed by for 71 years.
It’s at a wedding where some relation of Tenoch’s is getting married where he and Julio meet Luisa. Recognising that she is attractive and fancying themselves as 17 year old Gods-gifts-to-women (hah), they invite Luisa on a road trip to some amazing (also completely made-up) beach in Mexico. Naturally, as a married woman with responsibilities and the assumption she probably doesn’t want to spend a few days in a car with some teenage boys, she says no.
Cut to the next day where Luisa receives “test results”. The final push she needs to leave her cheating husband and go on the road trip with the young boys. This seems to make total sense. On the road trip, the boys learn more about their sexuality and women and the realities of wider world in this one road trip than they ever did in the years leading up to it.
It frustrates me because I can never quite describe exactly what it is that I love about Spanish and Latin American cinema. And this film is absolutely no different. It’s a coming of age film in a time when Mexico itself was coming of age. And subsequently, Mexico sure does have a lot to learn and a lot of adjusting to do.
The film ends on a solemn note that, I guess, isn’t that bad but it sure as hell isn’t great. It’s like those American movies where they’ve just graduated high school and they’re having one last blow out because they all know that College is going to change everything. But they say they’ll still be BFFs, even though they secretly know that’s not going to happen. Y tu Mamá También resonates that in me: things never stop changing and it ain’t always good.
I’m not too up on the Mexican school system but I do think the boys are about 17, and Luisa’s probably in her late 20s or at least she looks good enough to be in her late 20s. I’m in the middle of those ages right now. I’ve finished University and the ‘growing up and trying new things’ part of my life, supposedly. But I’m most certainly no where near marriage and a potential divorce. I’m somewhere in the middle. And I can tell you which category I’d rather be in.
Living in the same city I went to University in still gives me these great pangs of emotion and nostalgia for a time when it was perfectly okay to make mistakes. But I have to grow up and Mexico had to grow up. Julio and Tenoch had to go to College. Luisa had to meet her fate. It was all a bit shit, and Y tu Mamá También doesn’t leave me with the greatest of feelings and much hope for the future. However, we have to do things we don’t want to do, and we have to meet our fate. From thousands of miles away in Mexico it really hits home the realities of our beings and I couldn’t have asked for anything more from this small but truly special film.
Have you ever seen Y tu Mama Tambien? Did you love it as much as I did?