Y Tu Mamá, También (Italian Release) Review
Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón probably best known for his US-made films – Great Expectations and A Little Princess, but his latest directorial role sees him return to his country of birth for one of his strongest film yet. Y Tu Mamá, También (or to give it it’s English name, And Your Mother Too) is by and large a road movie charting the journey of two teenage boys, Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch’s cousin’s wife Luisa (Maribel Verdú) as they head across Mexico to find a beach that is the product of the teenager’s imagination.
When their girlfriends go off for a summer vacation in Italy, Tenoch and Julio are left to their own devices. The attend the wedding of one of Tenoch’s relatives where they meet Luisa. We later discover that Luisa’s marriage is not a happy one and her husband ‘Jano’ (Juan Carlos Remolina) has been sleeping with other women while away on business.
The boys tell Luisa that they are to visit Heavenly Mouth, an imaginary beach, in an attempt to impress her. However, when she later takes them up their offer they set out to across country in the hope of reaching a beach that matches their description.
Y Tu Mamá, También is very much a film about relationships – mainly that of the two boys. Their journey is one of self-discovery with Luisa almost acting as a guide. The story is partially centred around the boys sexual relationships and they both end up doing the dirty with Luisa and this threatens to pull the friends apart. Cuarón is uncompromising in the images he shows which are both very sexual but unerotic – much more like real life than the Hollywood portrayal of sex.
The film is very gritty, and yet it has a lot in common with the recent French film, Amelie particularly in the respect of the narration – both films use narration to drive the plot along and both also feature observations that are not at all key to the plot but manage to flesh out the film in order to ground it nicely in reality. The narration is provided by Daniel Gimenez Cacho.
Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal both perform excellently in their respective roles. Their relationship onscreen is brilliantly portrayed. Likeweise, Maribel Verdú is good as Luisa – a woman who is looking to live life, yet is still suffering emotionally from Jano’s betrayal. It’s easy to believe the on-screen events and the almost documentary style of filmmaking employed here adds to the level of reality. The film’s ending is particularly poignant, and yet also all too believable.
The disc reviewed here is actually the Italian release distributed by Twentieth Century Fox and features Spanish and Italian Dolby Digital soundtracks along with English and Italian subtitles. There are no extras other than scene selection.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is good – the only real qualms I have are with some minor print damage. The film doesn’t really feature a vibrant colour scheme – this is a road trip across Mexico remember so there’s a lot of sand and dirt. That said the range of colour is good with blacks rarely anything other than deep and solid while there doesn’t appear to be any sign of digital compression artefacts marring the picture.
The Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is used well to provide ambience and atmosphere. The front soundstage is solid and wide with good separation between all the speakers and while the rear speakers are rarely used for directional placement there is still plenty to keep them active. The soundtrack is fairly upbeat – mainly consisting of Mexican music although there are some familiar names amongst the artists. The DVD makes good use of the variety of music styles.
Y Tu Mamá, También is an intriguing film. It’s gritty but firmly grounded in reality – it’s the sort of film you can see getting an unneeded US remake some time in the future much like George Sluzier’s The Vanishing. The DVD is technically adequate with reasonable presentation but the complete lack of extra features may mean you’ll want to wait to see if a forthcoming UK or US release has more to offer.
In the mean time, this Italian disc contains a reasonable transfer of the film – and that’s really what matters most…