And Your Mother Too Review

Mexico City. With their girlfriends away in Europe, Tenoch (Diego Luna) and his best friend Julio (Gael García Bernal, one of the leads of Amores Perros) are spending a lazy summer together before going to University. At a wedding reception for one of Tenoch’s relatives, they meet Luisa (Maribel Verdú), who is married to Tenoch’s cousin. Tenoch and Julio claim to know of a paridisal beach known as “Heaven’s Mouth” and invite her along with them. They’re rather surprised when she takes them up on their offer…



A brief description of And Your Mother Too makes it sound like a crude sex comedy straight out of the pages of a top-shelf magazine. But from the opening scenes where Tenoch and Julio have farewell sex with their girlfriends before the latter depart for Europe, it’s clear that Alfonso Cuarón’s film has rather more going for it than that. It displays an ease and frankness about sex which shows the likes of American Pie as sniggering and coy as they really are. While not crossing the borderline into hardcore like European films such as Romance, there are times when And Your Mother Too comes close to it. (It’s currently playing without a MPAA rating in the US; several distributors rejected the film because of the certainty of a financially crippling NC-17 rating. Needless to say, the BBFC have had no problems with passing the film uncut with an 18 certificate.)




The premise – young men receiving a sexual and emotional education from an older woman – is one of the oldest male fantasies in the book. However, Luisa is a fully-rounded character. She’s motivated seemingly by her husband’s infidelity, but as the film progresses a deeper motivation comes clear, with a final twist ending the film on a bittersweet note. If anything, the two boys are seen naked more often than Luisa is, and she gets to utter some sharp comments about how much male bonding and macho competitiveness has to do with suppressed homoeroticism. The film uses the unusual device of a third-person narrator, who comments on the action, and now and again widens the field of reference: as Tenoch and Julio sit fuming in a traffic jam, the narrator tells us that the jam was caused by a migrant worker run over because the building of the road added an extra two kilometres to his journey to work. As Tenoch, Julio and Luisa travel to “Heaven’s Mouth”, we see a side of Mexico that the brochures don’t show us: poverty, military patrols and so on.



Alfonso Cuarón’s first film, Love in the Time of Hysteria landed him a Hollywood deal. There he made a magic-realist version of A Little Princess which rightly won critical raves but underperformed at the box office. A modern-day version of Great Expectations divided people: I was in the fifty percent who liked it. Returning to Mexico and a smaller budget, Cuarón and his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki adopt a simpler style, using natural lighting and some very long takes. Fortunately the actors are up to the demands of such a shooting style, and their contribution is vital to the film’s success. Along with Amores Perros, this film is confirmation that Mexican cinema is alive and well, and also serves as confirmation of Cuarón’s considerable talent. And Your Mother Too is a vibrant sex comedy that engages the brain and the heart as well as anywhere below the belt.




Overall

9

out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 17:58:21

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