Editor’s Note: Spoiler alert, I write about the ending.
Y Tu Mamá También (And Your Mother Too). The name sounded familiar, but the movie was already more than ten years old by the time a friend recommended it to me.
I clicked play on the YouTube video (w/English subtitles which no longer seems to be available on YouTube), and was immediately thrust (pun intended) into the sex lives of Tenoch and Julio, two upper-class, Mexican teenagers.
They each spend one last romp in the bedroom with their respective girlfriends, before saying goodbye to them as they depart for a pre-university vacation in Italy.
The following scenes serve to show the boredom growing between the two friends, as they swim, and otherwise goof off together.
At a wedding, they meet Luisa, the Spanish wife of Tenoch’s cousin, Jano. While at once giving Jano a hard time, they attempt to impress Luisa by inviting her to visit a beautiful beach with them, only the beach they speak of doesn’t exist.
After Luisa learns of her husband’s latest affair, she decides to take the boys up on their invitation. Being teenage boys, Tenoch and Julio quickly devise a plan to make the trip a reality. The movie is set in 1999, and makes regular, but subtle, references to the present-day political situation.
During the road trip, the twenty-something Luisa asks frank questions of the boys’ sexual experiences, before ultimately sleeping with Tenoch. When Julio witnesses this, accidentally, he confesses to his friend that he’d slept with his girlfriend.
Needless to say, the result is a lot of tension between the friends. Whether to try to balance the situation, or simply fulfill her own desires, she sleeps with Julio too. This upsets Tenoch, and Luisa seemingly regrets, if for only a moment, that she had sex with either of them.
Finally, Tenoch admits that he had slept with Julio’s girlfriend, and suddenly for all their bravado, it’s hard to take either of the boys seriously. They and their girlfriends are teenagers, which much to learn, as Luisa is all too willing to point out.
As I watched the movie unfold, I thought Luisa was trying to get back at her cheating husband, but by the end, I had a different take on her actions.
To the boy’s surprise, they do ultimately reach a beautiful beach. After a few nights, the boys need to return home to prepare for the start of university, while Luisa decides to keep traveling. While home, they no longer hang out together the way they did at the start of the film.
It isn’t until a year later, when Tenoch and Julio pass each other on the street, that they take the time to catch up over coffee. It’s only then that we learn from Tenoch that Luisa had terminal cancer, and had died a month after their road trip. She’d known all along, but never told anyone, including her husband.
In that light, she seemed to have finally taken control of her life, if only at the very end. She stopped putting up with her husband’s infidelities. She wanted to see new parts of Mexico. She embraced her sexuality, and in doing so, taught the teenagers about what it takes to not simply have sex, but to please a woman.
I don’t like it when characters I grow to like are killed off in a movie, but I have to admit it does make the story much more powerful.
In the end, the lesson I took away from the movie is to live your life to the fullest.
Don’t settle for a job you don’t like.
Don’t settle for a relationship that doesn’t meet your needs.
And invite more attractive women to beaches that don’t exist!
PS – In Mexico, in June 2001, the film had the highest box office opening weekend in that country’s history. In the USA, Y Tu Mama Tambien went on to earn a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, and later, an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. For a more intelectual review, read what film critic Roger Ebert had to say about the movie.