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Film Review: Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mother Too)

Is it art or is it Porky's by Mexicans?

Although the critics seem to love this film, one can't help wondering if they'd be so keen on this coming-of-age/road movie if it didn't carry the arthouse-cinema tag. The plot is fairly straightforward, though rather implausible: two 17-year-old Mexican friends from different social classes take a trip to a remote beach with an attractive married woman. What happens on this journey - rather than being an exploration of friendship, sex, identity, class - is more akin to the events of an X-rated American Pie or Porky's movie.

Y Tu Mama Tambien

Although Luisa (Maribel Verdu) only accepts the boys' flirtatious invitation when events in her personal life take a turn for the worse, it's hard to fathom what this intelligent and sensuous woman gains from her relationship with Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal, previously seen in Amores Perros) - apart from their obvious lust. Tenoch and Julio are almost unbearable in their juvenileness, a bit like Beavis and Butthead, only without the irony or humour. As one critic remarked, they're young, dumb and full of cum - but that's about all we ever get to know about them, and they're such blandly drawn boys that their characters are virtually interchangeable.

It's a shame these tiresome characters occupy so much screen time, as plenty of interesting observations about Mexican life are going on in the background. Unfortunately these are reduced to tantalisingly brief glimpses through the rear windscreen of the car as we drive past one fascinating scene after another: the corpse of the construction worker that remains unclaimed for four days; the car pulled over by the sinister Mexican police at one of numerous road-blocks; the peasants collecting money for their beauty "queen". Director Alfonso Cuaron employs the wrenching tactic of killing the sound suddenly to allow a sombre narrator's voice to fill us in on events like these, but as they are never dwelled upon or developed the effect becomes merely intrusive and pointless.

Y Tu Mama Tambien could have used its rawness and lack of pretension to dig deep into normally taboo subjects (the film could have achieved so much more had the twist at the end taken place in the middle of the film). Instead it has all the depth and emotional resonance of an extended version of Jackass.

Sylvia Leatham

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