Movie Project #11: Y Tu Mamá También [2001]

The 50 Movies Project: 2013 Edition

In what has become an annual tradition, I have decided to embark in a third round of the 50 Movies Project. The premise is simple — I have put together a list of 50 movies that I feel I absolutely must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. With so many films to see, it’s easy to get off track and forget about some of the essentials. This is my way of making sure I watch those that have been on my “must see” list for too long.

Y Tu Mamá También [2001]

Y Tu Mamá También [2001]
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Screenplay: Alfonso Cuarón, Carlos Cuarón
Country: Mexico
Genre: Drama
Starring: Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna
Running Time: 106 minutes

Reason for inclusion: I can’t remember where I first heard about this film, but it caught my attention years ago. Since then, I have seen it pop up in many “best of” lists, which has made me want to see it even more.

Accolades: New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Film, One Oscar nomination (Best Original Screenplay), two BAFTA nominations, one Golden Globe nomination

It seems only fitting that I follow up Luis Buñuel’s fantastic erotica, Belle de Jour, a film that showed little in the way of nudity, with Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También, a film that revels in its sexual freedom.

Here is a film that takes pieces from many cinematic themes — a coming of age story, a road movie, a tale of best friends, and the seduction of an older woman to a much younger male — and ties them altogether into something very unique. I can’t say I have ever seen a film like it, even though it still feels familiar.

Y Tu Mamá También [2001]

Julio (Gael García Bernal, a recognizable face from Amores Perros) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) are two teenage boys that are also best friends. They seem inseparable, especially when their girlfriends go away for the summer. Now free to do whatever they like, they party, drink, do drugs and try to get laid whenever possible. At a wedding, they meet Luisa (Maribel Verdú), the Spanish wife of one of Tenoch’s cousins. Both teens are instantly smitten with her and, in jest, they invite her on a road trip to a secluded beach that no one knows about. She finds their gesture flattering — and amusing — but politely declines. Later, when it appears her marriage has hit a rough patch, she decides to take them up on their offer, much to their surprise.

Y tu mamá también [2002]

Julio, Tenoch and Luisa all hit the road together and drive through the Mexican countryside in search of this mysterious beach. This gives everyone involved — us included — to learn something new. For us, this trip provides a glimpse through rural Mexico, showing economic disparity while also beautifully evoking its many different cultures. For the characters, they are all discovering new things about themselves and each other, for better or for worse. It goes without saying that things will not be the same by the time they come back.

Y Tu Mamá También is frank with its subject matter, and full-frontal nudity is a common occurrence. However, there is nothing sleazy about this film, and in fact, it should be commended for not concealing anything. This is a wonderfully told story that feels raw and authentic. Best yet, it is honest, and by the end of the film I felt like I really knew these characters. All three grow up, just not perhaps in the way you might expect.


19 thoughts on “Movie Project #11: Y Tu Mamá También [2001]

  1. Frame Rates says:

    I picked this up on Blu-ray for £4. Such a bargain for an amazing film! Great review. The greatest thing about this movie is how you become friends with the trio, while seeing their dynamics evolve.

  2. The Blog of Big Ideas says:

    Really nicely written and summarized review Eric. I can’t say I like this film as much as you do even though I agree with most of your points. The ending is, by far, the best the film has to offer, wrapping the story rather nicely and giving us a glimpse into the future of these two friends. When it comes to Cuaron, I much rather watch Children of Men any day, one of my all-time favorites.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Thanks for the kind words! I agree on the ending — it masterfully brought everything together and made the entire film more effective as a result. I’ll have to revisit Children of Men, but for now I would rank this one higher.

  3. Jules says:

    Great review, this looks like the kind of small intimate movie that wouldn’t get a lot of attention mainstream (in America anyway) but that I’d definitely enjoy personally. I’m not surprised I haven’t heard of it, but I will definitely be looking it up some for some day down the line. Also, love the concept of this project. I may have to do something like this in the future as my movie watching/reviewing is really a crapshoot at this point, and I really respect the goal (” to continue my progression as a film lover”) behind the idea as well. Good stuff.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Thanks man. Yeah, there’s no way this was going to get a lot of traction here simply because of its rampant nudity and sexuality. I believe it was released without a rating because it would have been NC-17 otherwise.

      These movie projects have been immensely rewarding, and I have found that making a list really helps me stay focused. If you’re ever looking for some new films to watch, I ranked every film from my first two projects on my features page:

      Thanks for the kind words!

  4. ruth says:

    I quite like Alfonso Cuarón and Gael García Bernal but to be honest, the subject matter doesn’t quite appeal to me. Glad to hear it’s not sleazy though, maybe one day I’ll give this a shot.

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