Plot: What’s it about?
When I was sixteen years old I was subscribed to Rolling Stone magazine and I read every issue from front to back when they arrived at my door step. I mainly just cared about two things: the music reviews and Peter Travers’ film reviews. I remember reading his review of this sexy little movie out of Mexico and being completely intrigued. I didn’t get a chance to catch it in theaters, but the moment it came out on DVD I sat down and watched it. There really isn’t a movie more suitable to watch as a seventeen year old boy than Y Tu Mamá También with the exception of maybe Dazed and Confused. I remember being absolutely blown away. Now watching it in the month of my thirtieth birthday, there is no movie more appropriate to remind me of what it was like to be a young adult.
I should mention that when I saw the movie I was a virgin and the sexual frankness in the film was exciting and a bit confusing. Watching the film years later, I still felt myself getting vaguely nervous that the camera refuses to pull away from some of the more erotic parts of the film. Consider this a warning: Y Tu Mamá También is very erotic and can be pretty explicit. The Criterion release is the full unrated version that would have easily received the NC-17 rating. If sexuality in films is not your deal, I would recommend steering clear of this film.
That said, if you are willing to take the ride, Y Tu Mamá También is easily one of the most beautiful films that I have seen. The film was directed by Alfonso Cuaron with cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki. The results are astounding. For my money, Lubezki is the best cinematographer working today. The Mexican surroundings could not look any more unique and wonderful than they appear in this film.
The main plot of the film follows preppy Tenoch (Diego Luna) and middle-lower class Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal.) They are best friends living in Mexico City. The movie opens with Tenoch having sex with his girlfriend, Ana, and then Julio having sex with his girlfriend, Ceci. Both of their girlfriends are going away to Italy over the summer. It should be painfully obvious to all parties that they are going to cheat on each other over the summer but they tell each other that they will remain faithful. After the girls fly out, Tenoch and Julio go about their usual affairs: drinking, smoking pot, masturbating together at an abandoned swimming pool, trying to get laid. That is when they meet Luisa (Maribel Verdu). Luisa has moved to Mexico from Spain to be with Tenoch’s cousin Jano. Tenoch and Julio hit on her at a wedding and offer to drive her across Mexico to a hidden beach that they know about. The next day Luisa goes to the doctor where she receives some bad news, and then finds that Jano has cheated on her. She decides to take the road trip with Tenoch and Julio and they make their way across Mexico in a beat up station wagon.
The movie has a ton going for it. First off, Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal were already close friends before filming, so their on camera connection is extremely believable. They did a fantastic job. Maribel Verdu is incredible as Luisa, one of the most sensual characters ever put on screen. She will have you entranced by the final scenes. Second, the film manages to fit in an unbelievable amount of information into a film that is not even two hours long. It is able to look at friendship, sexuality, youth, jealousy, and the modern state of affairs in Mexico in great detail in that amount of time. Crazy, right? The third thing going for the film is pacing. The movie does not slow down from the first frame and has so much to look at along the way. I wish that every film could learn from this one on how to properly pace a film.
If you can watch films that deal with complex sexual issues and can deal with some explicit sexual content, Y Tu Mamá También is absolutely as good as it gets. I loved the movie when I was seventeen, and I think I love it now even more.
Video: How’s it look?
This is easily one of the best transfers that Criterion has ever put onto Blu-ray. They gave the film the deluxe treatment with one of the best looking 2K digital transfers I have ever seen. This movie must be seen to be believed. Color reproduction, clarity, and depth are all significantly improved over my old DVD copy. This is the only way to watch this film, but luckily Criterion has also included two DVDs with all the features if you aren’t into seeing HD perfection. Criterion gets a full standing ovation for their job here. This transfer deserves to sit on the same shelf as the incredible transfer of Badlands they put out last year. Wow!
Audio: How’s it sound?
Similar to the video, this Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is absolutely fantastic. The surrounds are used effectively to immerse the viewer in the surroundings the entire film. This is one of the best audio tracks that Criterion has released in the past couple years. Audiophiles will want to jump for joy as there is absolutely no reason to not live this track. Clarity is fantastic, depth is incredible, and the soundtrack is fantastic. What is there not to love?
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Two new pieces on the making of the film, featuring interviews, recorded at the time of production and in 2014, with actors Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, and Maribel Verdú; Alfonso Cuarón; cowriter Carlos Cuarón; and Lubezki – these are both great. It is very fun to watch the actors back then and thirteen years later. Great stuff.
- New interview with philosopher Slavoj Žižek About the Film’s Social and Political Aspects – This feature was great, especially if you are a fan of his Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. He mainly focuses on the political underpinnings of the film.
- On-set Documentary from 2001– This has some excellent behind the scenes footage, but unfortunately it is pretty much in standard definition. Well worth watching.
- Deleted Scenes – there are three short scenes presenting totaling less than five minutes. They are not essential, but the first one is pretty funny.
- You Owe Me One (2002), a short film by Carlos Cuarón. – This film has not much in common with the movie, but was still pretty enjoyable. Worth a single viewing.
- A booklet featuring an essay by critic Charles Taylor and reprinted character biographies by Carlos Cuarón and Alfonso Cuarón- this booklet is one of the most impressive booklets I have seen in a Criterion release. It is a piece of art with tons of extra information in it. Awesome.
The Bottom Line
Rewatching Y Tu Mamá También was like time traveling to my late adolescence. I couldn’t believe the amount of energy that this movie gets across the screen. The film is drop dead gorgeous and Criterion have made this my contender for the best disk I have seen from them in the last year (this is no small statement considering what they have released in the last year.) The supplementary features are excellent, although an audio commentary would have put it over the top. If you love the film this purchase is a no brainer. I would never dream of watching it any other way after seeing it like this. Thank you Criterion!