Review by Simon Bell
AND (Fuck) Your Mother Too, the unapolgetically sexual but never offensive
teen comedy from Mexican Alsonso Cuarón, became a surprise hit in the
US when it was released three weeks ago. The film has now taken $17m worldwide,
breaking home box office records and picking up nominations for Venice and
Golden Globe prizes on the way.
On the surface, Y Tu Mamá También is a simple road movie. But it's message is carried with undiminished sophistication.
Tenoch (Diego Luna), the son of a moneyed but unethical politician, and lifelong chum Julio (Gael García Bernal), are sex-obsessed Mexico City high-school students, dripping with attitude and arrogance. They orate in vulgarities, smoke the odd bit of tea and take the piss out of anything and everything. They also live by a code known as the Charolastras: a litany of adolescent, macho attitudes that includes shagging by the bucketload.
Freed from the shackles of Europe-bound girlfriends, they end up at a wedding party. There they meet older woman Luisa Cortes (Maribel Verdú, of Belle Epoque), an attractive Spanish woman whose husband plays away from home. The three run off to beach paradise Boca del Cielo (Heaven's Mouth), an idyll the boys have invented as a seductive lure. She turns the tables, however, by shocking them with her frankness and more than willing sexual condescension
Cuarón's return to his homeland will be welcome to those, like me, who didn't think much of his foray into Hollywood. For one, Great Expectations, despite its stellar cast (Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke) was a flop.
More than aided by the gifted Emmanuel Lubezki (who photographed Meet Joe Black, Sleepy Hollow and, more recently, Ali), Cuarón here conjures lasting images of a Mexico unfamiliar to most outside its borders: Police checkpoints, drug busts and traffic accidents, shanty towns and a roadblock of flowers by villagers demanding a donation for their Virgin queen.
Punctuated at times with a silencing of the soundtrack, we hear a narrator who comments from outside the action: It's a narration that portrays a Mexico with a prosperous economy but penniless peasantry.
The film's star, Garcia Bernal (a 23-year-old graduate of the Central School of Speech and Drama who now lives in an east London loft), most cinefiles will know from Amores Perros. He also seems present as a pointer to the crossover success New Mexican Cinema is achieving in the American and European film market.
Don't know your Zapata from your Carranza? Don't worry. You'll see and learn far more about modern Mexico than you ever could from a Cancun hotel disco.
In the end then, Y Tu Mamá is a sexed-up and horny coming-of-age slice of burlesque that's well worth a watch. And there's no pie fucking.