Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)

"Two randy young guys go on a road trip with a glamorous but troubled older woman. The result is an outrageously, uproariously sexed-up movie" 


The film, whose title translates as "And Your Mama, Too," is another trumpet blast that there may be a New Mexican Cinema a-bornin'. Like "Amores Perros," which also stars Gael Garcia Bernal, it is an exuberant exercise in interlocking stories. But these interlock not in space and time, but in what is revealed, what is concealed, and in the parallel world of poverty through which the rich characters move.

Two Mexican teenagers named Tenoch and Julio, one from a rich family, one middle class, are free for the summer when their girlfriends go to Europe. At a wedding they meet Luisa, 10 years older, the wife of a distant cousin; she's sexy and playful. They suggest a weekend trip to the legendary beach named Heaven's Mouth. When her husband cheats on her, she unexpectedly agrees, and they set out together on a lark.

Whether Luisa will have sex with one or both of her new friends is not for me to reveal.

"Y Tu Mama Tambien" is described on its Web site as a "teen drama," which is like describing "Moulin Rouge" as a musical. The description is technically true but sidesteps all of the reasons to see the movie. Yes, it's about two teenage boys and an impulsive journey with an older woman that involves sexual discoveries. But it is also about the two Mexicos. And it is about the fragility of life and the finality of death. Beneath the carefree road movie that the movie is happy to advertise is a more serious level--and below that, a dead serious level.

The key performance is by Maribel Verdu as Luisa. She is the engine that drives every scene she's in, as she teases, quizzes, analyzes and lectures the boys, as if impatient with the task of turning them into beings fit to associate with an adult woman. In a sense she fills the standard role of the sexy older woman, so familiar from countless Hollywood comedies, but her character is so much more than that--wiser, sexier, more complex, happier, sadder. 
It is true, as some critics have observed, that "Y Tu Mama" is one of those movies where "after that summer, nothing would ever be the same again." Yes, but it redefines "nothing."

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