Y Tu Mama También (2001): 'Do You Ever Wish You Could Live Forever?'

None of that Hollywood crap romanticising sex and death, it's all about reality. 

For the last two nights Diego Luna has been coming to me in my dreams – which is never a bad thing. On waking up this morning, I realised this month’s theme of ‘Bright Young Things’ would be a total bust without talking about Y Tu Mama También. Really, I don’t know why it didn't come to me sooner; it’s a glaringly obvious choice for the theme, in fact perhaps the perfect manifestation of what it is to be young, all hormone-ed up and oblivious to anything apart from where you’re going to get your next orgasm from. 

Y Tu Mama También (And Your Mother Too) is Alfonso Cuaron’s Mexican masterpiece; the story of two 17 year old boys, Tenoch and Julio, played by Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal,  who've got a summer to fill as their girlfriends travel across Europe together. Without the girls to soothe their sexual frustrations, the randy duo turn their attentions towards the sensual Luisa (Maribel Verdu), who they meet at a society wedding. Using all the giggly charm their drunkenness and weed smoking will afford them, they invite Luisa to go on a road trip with them to ‘Heaven’s Mouth’, naturally a fictitious destination, and whilst at the time she politely declines, later the revelations of a cheating spouse lead her to accept the invitation.

Once Tenoch and Julio have managed to manically rustle together the things needed for a road trip, like a car, the threesome set off on a journey of discovery. But don’t start thinking this is where the narrative becomes predictable, with a few disputes and some ‘real-talk’, all culminating in them realising they’re actually blessed to be in each other’s lives. Oh no. Instead the road allows the character’s to experience two of life’s biggest actualities; sex and death. 

And boy is there a fair bit of both. When the film was first released in 2001, it was definitely the amount of Discovery Channel antics that caught critics’ and audiences’ attention. But there’s nothing seedy or exploitative about the sex in this film. In fact the beauty of it lies in the way the director and the cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki have decided to shoot the scenes, with long and uncompromising shots that shock the audience into a realisation. It’s one of those, “wow, is that what I look like?!” moments.  

The film also deals with current social situations in Mexico; the vast lines separating the haves from the have-nots. As the three travel across the country they’re constantly met with the actuality of being poor in Mexico, regularly passing police checkpoints or drug-busts, or else horrific traffic accidents that are lamented only for the problems it’ll cause the roadwork’s or fluidity of the rest of the traffic. And Tenoch, Julio and Luisa move through all these scenes unstopped, and often untouched. As members of their countries’ upper and middle classes, these peripheral moments remain remote. 

I first watched Y Tu Mama También when I was 15, and it’s a film I've been happy to continuously return to ever since. It initiated in me a love for foreign cinema, which had a knock-on effect of wanting me to drop everything and travel the world. For those of us who aren't really in that financial sphere at the moment, foreign cinema offers the perfect escapism, especially when you're greeted by such beautifully crafted characters as these three.