“Y tu mamá también” (2001)

y_tu_mama_tambienToday is Saturday, August 29, 2009 and last night I stayed up until 2 in the morning secretly watching Y Tu Mamá También, starring Dieego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal. I borrowed this film on from the media center in school as part of what I wanted to call a “Gael” binge, following two Sundays ago when I watched Blindness (2008). Finding the DVDs was a coincidence, though. My initial intention was actually to rent out Mike Leigh’s Naked (1993) for my Online Analysis assignment for IB Film. However, when I didn’t see it, I found instead three DVDs for Spanish-language films, all of which starred Gael Garcia Bernal: Amores Perros, Diarias de Motorcicleta and Y Tu Mamá También. I decided to borrow these three films just in case I find some sort of inspiration for my independent study.

Though I would have them on loan for a whole month, I decided to watch Y Tu Mamá También on impulse. It was late at night and I was in no mood to sleep yet, so I decided to watch the movie since everyone would be asleep and therefore not be able to walk in on my dark deed. To anyone who does not know what sorts of scenes are featured in the film, there is a parental advisory guide on IMDb.

Anyway.

Y Tu Mamá También is a film about two friends, Tenoch (Luna) and Julio (Bernal) who go on a trip to the beach with an older woman named Luisa. The film covers a lot of different subjects, including friendship, love, sex and poverty, all against the backdrop of rural Mexico. I only knew about this film, really, due to its racy and nearly explicit sex scenes, as well as the fact that it starred my two favourite Mexican actors.

However, after actually seeing the film for what it was, I gained a better view of Y Tu Mamá También beyond the demi-pornographic masterpiece that I perceived it to be before actually watching it. It may not be a meticulously crafted, calculated film like the Dutch thriller The Vanishing (which we watched in Film class), but Y Tu Mamá También was a film with its own art. I could write an Extended Essay on that film, though I don’t think I will.

One thing I truly loved about Y Tu Mamá También was how it made me appreciate a colour that I usually despise: the colour yellow. The film uses yellow – though usually a very muted tint of it – in every single setting, every scene, and nearly every shot. During the scenes along the journey to the beach, which Tenoch and Julio fondly called La Boca del Cielo (“Heaven’s Mouth”), I perceived the use of the colour yellow to be a reminder of their destination due to the colour of the sand and, possibly, the sorts of memories that they were probably looking forward to.

When I think of yellow as a symbol, yellow is a colour that is usually associated with cheerful emotions such as joy or happiness. Taking this a bit further, I could assume that the pursuit– or maybe even the discovery – of true happiness might actually be one of the main themes in the film. This is what I could interpret from Tenoch and Julio’s carefree personalities, their “Charloastra” (“astral cowboy”) manifesto, and Luisa’s reluctant yet seemingly necessary separation from her husband Jano. This is a film about happiness. This is a film about joie de vivre. About discovering joie de vivre.

I also liked the use of voice-over in the film. There are several moments in Y Tu Mamá También when all sound disappears and a deep male voice talks over the image onscreen (which, on several occasions, has shown servants going about their work). The narrator speaks from a point of view that is both distant and up-close, able to speak of both Julio’s and Tenoch’s lives, secrets, thoughts and emotions, usually parallel to one another, as well as a third-person view of supposedly random events and information that add meaning and depth to setting and the passing of time.

Furthermore, I would like to state that my favourite aspect of Y Tu Mamá También as a film is its omniscience. The omniscience in cinematography and in the voice-overs contributes to my suggested theme of discovery. The cinematography in this film covers broad images such as the rural Mexican scenery as well as more intimate scenes that take place in motels and makeshift beachside bedrooms. The concept of discovery doesn’t only apply to the viewer’s comprehension of the story, but more especially to the characters’ discoveries of each other. In this film Julio and Tenoch learn valuable lessons from Luisa, while Luisa learns about brotherhood and happiness from the two teenage boys.

Eventually, though, the main lessons learned in this story are lessons about life. Life passes. Time passes. Things happen and people change. This film is realistic and that is why I enjoyed it so much. As of now, I have two more Gael films to watch and enjoy (though the visuals of Y Tu Mamá También have showed me more of Gael and Diego than I may have wanted two years ago), and I have October’s Cinemanila film festival to look forward to. Diego Luna is coming to Manila. I am so excited.

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