Netflix Hidden Gem #75: Y tu mamá también
Y Tu Mamá También
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Genre: Drama, Romance
Synopsis: Two teenage, Mexican boys go on a roadtrip with an older woman (Maribel Verdú) while they learn more about each other, life, and intimate relationships.
Overview: Y Tu Mamá También is like the surf, and watching Alfonso Cuarón’s reflective and sincere coming-of-age, road trip film is like the calm and ever-engaging act of watching the surf. Like the surf, the film delivers something exquisitely different. What starts off in the two boys’ heads as a fun, raunchy road trip meant for debauchery and escapism becomes a bittersweet meditation on the fleeting nature of life, sex, and adulthood.
Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael García Bernal) leave behind their upper-class lifestyle and immaturity when they decide to take a roadtrip with Luisa to a beach they know not where. And as they delve deeper into the poverty-ridden Mexican country, their growth and maturity unfolds gradually and finally culminates in a beautiful climax that could’ve come across as gratuitous, but instead is manifested as a moment of tender realization between the two boys.
It is Cuarón’s elegance behind the camera that allows the journey of the three characters to progress so subtly yet so powerfully. Cuarón makes brilliant use of the history and the landscape of the journey the characters are travelling. The themes of the characters’ maturation, the temporality of time, and the sudden tragedy that could change one’s life are all expressed through the people and the places the characters come across.
The way Cuarón utilizes these aspects to inform the characters’ arcs and the film thematically makes the film fascinating and magnetic. It’s easy to be captivated by anything from the most inconsequential of conversation to the very explicit sex scenes. Cuarón doesn’t let the typical “raunchy road trip film” archetype inform his narrative structure; he is more interested in discovering the truth and the mindset behind these characters in these moments, while also examining their relationships with each other.
These sex scenes are executed with the drive to serve the story, not to serve the pleasures of the audience. Very much like the film itself, the sex scenes can either be depicted as joyous, disheartening, or as a profound moment of growth for the characters. Most of them are in long takes, and the actors deliver on each beat perfectly. It’s passionate, it informs the character arcs, and it drives the story.
Cuarón creates a realistic and intimate reflection on maturity, the abruptness of calamity, and how we should experience our lives before it’s gone. A reflection that is so deeply rooted in Mexico and its culture that it makes itself excitingly fresh, molding itself outside of the coming-of-age, roadtrip structural narrative. It’s perhaps one of the most enlightening and enriching viewing experiences one could hope to have, so one should give themselves away like the sea.