For all of us there was, or will be, a point in time at which we lose our innocence and say farewell to the freedom of our youth. Director Alfonso Cuaron returned to his Mexican roots after success in New York and Hollywood to make this stark and amazingly real film. It simply isn't the kind of thing that could be made in Hollywood these days. It would end up pulling too many punches, dissolve into cheap dirty jokes, star the wrong actors and have a less honest ending inserted.
Cuaron uses Spanish actress Maribel Verdu and Mexican actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna (whose on screen chemistry is likely related to them being close friends in "real life") as the core of a story about life. To say this is a "coming of age" film cheapens it, as such a label has often been applied to any cheesy movie in which someone under the age of nineteen gets a blowjob. This film paints a picture, and every brush stroke is essential to the story as it evolves.
Watching the first twenty minutes or so of this film is rather uncomfortable. Without wanting to throw out any accidental spoilers, lets just say we learn how inept these two blowhards are right off the bat. We watch them beg their girlfriends not to sleep with anyone when they are on vacation for the summer in Europe and then immediately make their own vows to get a bit of action. Yes. I remember those days. Young guys making up stories and bragging about things and then wondering if they aren't as well heeled as their friends. An invitation to disaster, always trying to look more the man when you are as scared as the next guy. That bravado is played extremely well here, even as we see our two leading men behaving like a sickening pair of pricks.
And pricks they are, in more ways than one. They spend their summer away from school drinking to excess, smoking a lot of really good "dog shit" weed, and trying to get laid by any girl who will give them a second look. And so, at a family wedding, they meet Luisa and our young pricks Julio and Tenoch are convinced their obnoxious behavior will get her to come away with them. Soon after they learn she is the wife of Tenoch's cousin and figure that puts an end to that pursuit.
A chain of events conspires to connect Luisa and the boys a day or so later. She has reasons for need to feel a bit of power and to feel desired. The boys had invented the name of an imaginary beach to impress her the day they met and now she wants to go there. So, the road trip begins, and it is one of the very best road trips you'll ever see captured on film. There is a point at which you stop hating Julio and Tenoch, and it happens after some masterful acting, directing and character development that works in such a subtle fashion that you wonder why you despised them earlier in the film. You don't fall in love with them, but you do begin to find yourself inside them. The road trip is filled with messages and stories, as we come to understand that every person and every place along the way has a story. The story of our three characters is just the one we have been chosen to hear in its entirety, but these other stories are just as important. There is a very real magic all around us, but it has nothing to do with pulling rabbits out of hats. It has everything to do with how everything connects and fits together even though it really doesn't.
It isn't a spoiler to say that both Julio and Tenoch end up having sex with Luisa. We know it will happen. We know it is the reason they all went on this trip, but there is so much more to it than just taking an older married woman for a ride (she is barely ten years older). As an essential part of this road trip, it triggers far more than either of our young teenage lads could have anticipated. Just as we don't anticipate the stories and people we visit through the narrator along the way, they don't anticipate themselves. In the end there will be too much knowledge and two friends will find themselves at a crossroads as they realize they have left their innocence behind.
Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki puts us in another world, which is a very foreign place to any American viewer. We are seeing seeds of revolution against a corrupt ruling government on the verge of change, and the timing is intentional. That change mirrors that of our protagonists. Our friends are never stopped and never questioned by police who stop and interrogate everyone along the roads they travel. There is little concern about these matters for our heroes, as Tenoch is the son of the government's Secretary of State. The plight of victims of a corrupt government doesn't faze them, as they are free-spirited and detached from the world around them. That all changes, and as the movie climaxes in an unforgettable tequila fueled night, we begin to understand... and in a way remember the point in time where it all changed for ourselves as well.
And Your Mother, Too
The English translation of the film's title.
You might have to think for a few minutes
after viewing the film to get it.
Some facts, names and dates researched at AllMovie.com
The rest are my impressions after having just watched the film.