‘Y tu Mama Tambien’ on Criterion Channel and Sundance Now

Y Tu Mamá También (Mexico, 2001), Alfonso Cuaron’s return to Mexico after his initial sojourn in Hollywood, recharged his ambitions and his creative juices. Ostensibly a coming of age drama by way of a sex comedy, it’s vivid, thoughtful, political and unapologetically raw. Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna star as best friends, a pair of sex-obsessed, dope-smoking teenage boys who head for a (fictional) hidden beach with a sexy, worldly, and older (than them, anyway) Spanish woman (Maribel Verdu).

Bernal and Luna are utterly unselfconscious in their portrayal of the working class Julio and rich kid Tenoch, boys on their last blast of irresponsible fun and the bring just a touch of tension to their screen friendship. Verdu’s unhappily-married Luisa emerges as the heart and soul of the picture. Under her smiling front of confidence and fun-loving impulsiveness she is sad and lost and she thrives on the unbridled energy and naïve innocence of the immature, cocky, sex mad boys. Her sexual favors are not favors at all, but a desperate attempt to lose herself, if only for a few moments, in simple physical pleasure (and brief it is, much to her unfulfilled frustration).

Framing the giddy teenage explosion of energy are the comments of an omniscient narrator, whose ironic insights offer background color and flash-forward reality checks, while the political and social tensions of modern day Mexico are glimpsed in the periphery of their road trip. That’s a lot to cram into a coming of age film and Cuaron does it deftly, thoughtfully, and with sharp, aggressive style. As Luisa tells the boys, “Sometimes you’re complete a**holes, but basically you’re both pretty cool guys.” Like all road movies, this is a journey to self, and Cuaron both celebrates and mourns the passing of their youth. His next film was a very different kind of coming of age tale: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

The screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award and the film won the Film Independent Spirit Award for foreign language feature.

In Spanish with English subtitles. This one earns its R-rating: there is nudity, foul language, lots of sex and even more talk about sex.

Add to My List on Criterion Channel or watch it on Sundance Now

Also available on DVD and Blu-ray in a deluxe Criterion edition and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Vudu, and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Y tu mamá también (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Y tu mamá también (Criterion Collection) [DVD]

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Originally released on DVD from MGM with the short film You Owe Me One (2002) by Carlos Cuarón, a lighthearted Spanish-language documentary shot on the set of the production, and three deleted scenes.

Criterion’s special edition Blu-ray and DVD are both mastered from a new, restored 2K digital film transfer supervised by director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki and approved by director Alfonso Cuarón, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Along with the supplements from the original DVD release, it includes two new featurettes on the making of the film with new and archival interviews with director Alfonso Cuaron, director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki, cowriter Carlos Cuaron, and actors Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and Maribel Verdu. “Then” is shorter and features interviews recorded during the production of the film and “Now,” which runs about 40 minutes, looks back on the film with all new interviews conducted for this piece. Also new is a short interview with philosopher Slavoj Zizek discussing the politics and themes of the film. The accompanying booklet features essay by critic Charles Taylor and character biographies by co-writer Carlos Cuarón.

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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