May 29: Y Tu Mamá También | Cohost Choice
In the category of Cohost’s Choice, Max has chosen for Scott to watchY Tu Mamá También (2001), directed by Alfonso Cuaron, written by Alfonso & Carlos Cuaron, and starring Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Maribel Verdu
I was… underwhelmed. I hate saying that because there are aspects of the movie that I enjoy. I love the simplicity of it; two kids, properly driven by sex as basically their only motivation, joined by a woman with a lot going on in life. It’s a road trip movie, showing off character dynamics, the challenges of friendship moving in to adulthood, and the consequences of selfishness. It’s beautifully shot as well; a very natural camera suits the simplicity of the elements of the story. Frequent Cuaron collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki brings his signature style and eye for visuals to the movie, and shows off some excellent work here too. He uses (seemingly) mostly natural light throughout the film, and Lubezki always does a good job minimizing cuts in a natural way, while letting the elements of the scene to be properly accentuated by the camera. His cinematography is just as good here early in his career as it is in his later works that receive so much more attention. Another aspect I liked was that the music was natural in the scenes for the most part; there was not much (if any, I cannot remember) background/non-diegetic music, and for many scenes the characters would be listening to the car radio or their stereo and that was the movie’s music. The acting was fine, if unspectacular. The two lead actors have good chemistry together, as does the charming Luisa, but I wasn’t wowed by the performances.
The idea of the road trip story as a vehicle (ha) for the coming-of-age story is well enough, I just never became invested in the characters, and they never really grew to me. Things changed within their relationship and around each other, but Tenoch and Julio did not fundamentally change at all. In my opinion, the best coming-of-age stories are fundamentally built on character growth and this movie just didn’t deliver that for me. Stand by Me, The Breakfast Club, Moonlight, The Spectacular Now, and Good Will Hunting are all great coming-of-age stories built on characters and how they face adversity. Some of the characters do it successfully, some don’t, but all face it head on and face the things about themselves that they must change. In Good Will Hunting, Will needs to accept his clear potential, forgive his past, and grow as a man, leaving the Boston projects behind. In Moonlight, Chiron is faced with the challenge of accepting his sexuality and allowing himself to become the man he is, but he fails; he distances himself from who he truly is and hides under a façade of masculinity and bravado. Y Tu Mamá También did not have a challenge like this; that’s what makes it different from other coming-of-age stories perhaps, and many people probably resonate with that.
Want to keep up with the rest of our scavenger hunt? Check out the rest of our May Movie Challenge here.