The Temptations of Friendship: Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mama Too), starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna

By Daniel Garrett

Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mama Too)
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Starring Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal, 
Maribel Verdue
Executive Producer: Sergio Aguero
MGM, 2001

In Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mama Too), directed by Alfonso Cuaron (A Little Princess, Great Expectations), two Mexican boys on the cusp of manhood, friends of different classes, one wealthy, one poor, amuse themselves with jokes, drugs, and talk about women. After they say goodbye to their girlfriends who are traveling to Europe, they get a new acquaintance, a married woman they meet at a wedding (she is the cousin by marriage of the wealthy boy), to take a car trip with them to a beach. The wealthy boy is played by Diego Luna, the poor boy by Gael Garcia Bernal, and the older woman by Maribel Verdu—all flawless performances; these actors look and sound like real people, not actors, and are more attractive and compelling for that fact. The road trip is about secrets told and secrets withheld, and as the boys attempt to seduce the woman they also find out about how they have betrayed each other in the past and also that their friendly feelings for each other have had an unacknowledged erotic component: some truths they can bear, and some they cannot. Their jokes, drugs, and talk about women may have been their manner of keeping certain truths repressed.

The film, in its voiceover narration, makes observations of things—such as a highway accident leading to death and the poverty of people in the countryside—the boys in their self-absorption do not notice or care about. More than this, the narration reminds us that the film is choosing one story among many, which is what most storytellers do, only now we’re kept aware of it, a democratic gesture (ironic awareness increases viewer pleasure). The pacing of the film is natural, as is its look and the acting in it, and this is a very believable story, and it gives us the many quick-changing moods of real life. It makes the calculation—and the lies and partial truths—ordinarily presented in a typical Hollywood film seem even more unnecessary.

Daniel Garrett is a writer whose work has appeared in The African, AllAboutJazz.com, American Book Review, Art & Antiques, The Audubon Activist, Cinetext.Philo, Film International, Hyphen, IdentityTheory.com, Muse-Apprentice-Guild.com, Offscreen.com, Option, PopMatters.com, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, WaxPoetics.com, and World Literature Today. He has written fiction, poetry, drama, journalism, and criticism; and his review of Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mama Too) previously appeared on IdentityTheory.com’s web pages. His e-mail addresses are D.Garrett.Writer@gmail.com and dgarrett31@hotmail.com

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