Y Tu Mama Tambien was a dramatic change from the features the class has previously enjoyed. The story revolves around the lives of two young men who are forced to fill the space created by the boredom that dominates their summer. Their boredom however soon changes when they meet Luisa, and set out on a journey that they soon will not forget. The director brings the audience on this journey in a rather unique way, and allows the audience the opportunity to view these teenager’s lives from an outside perspective, with constant clarification and reference to political and coming of age insight.
The directing style of Alfonso Cuaròn enabled an intense intertwining of these messages conveying the meaning of politics and maturity between friends and families. The roles these boys play, as well as the overlaying narration, accentuates the meaning behind the director’s message and ultimately creates a vastly profound piece of cinematic work. There are many ways that Alfonso Cuaròn exploits these ideas, the most prominent being his usage of a narrator, because “not only does he use narration to inform us of character traits, and intent, but the characters, in their actions, clarified heterodiegetically, inform us on the political landscape and many times in doing so it allows us insight into an unseen conflict between what the actors are doing and saying, versus the true meaning or motivation of the scene—oftentimes creating a sense of irony” (Kemet). This ultimately makes the narration a huge part of the film and allows for a structured and specified understanding of the messages. However the directors also uses the incorporation of the boy’s manifesto, and the overwhelming character development of Tenoch and Julio as their story progresses with Luisa to clarify the underlying meaning behind his story.
Through the narration the director is able to touch upon a few main messages he meant to portray. First being the political ideologies of the two families these boys come from and how that influences their friendships both throughout the story and after, and the political ideals that ultimately run the country that these young men spend their everyday lives in. For example, the story begins with these gentlemen and their girlfriends with an immediate overlay of narration introducing the characters and their lifestyles. This is preceded by an explanation of their girlfriend’s parent’s views of them socially and personally. This allows for critical character development that is able to unravel later in the story. One of the most interesting aspects of these first scenes is that Julio is the only Mestizo in the entire film, which is a predominantly working class ethnicity in Mexico, however he meshes well into the higher cultures. This however is ultimately a problem waiting to happen and eventually causes tension between Julio and Tenoch who is Criollo, a predominantly wealthy demographic. It is the incorporation of subtle undertones such as this that gives the audience an inside look at what is really going on in these kids heads, and the reasons behind their reactions and outlooks on life.
The next scene is one that touches upon the families of these men, and allows for the audience to gain a better understanding of the up bringing each of these boys endured for the past eighteen odd years of their life. Whilst driving in the car the narrator discusses Tenoch’s dads work as a politician and then the information stated is molded into a face and a persona as Tenoch emphasizes his dads response to his failing of a class. The narrator throughout the story builds a frame and the boys mold the skin, and give the audience a clearer understanding of their lives and the lives of the everyday Mexican citizen and the upper class Mexican citizen.
In contrast to the political insights that Cuaròn, he dedicated a significant portion of his film to the understanding of growth, and the process of coming of age. By incorporating Luisa into the story (a mature married women), he is able to build a contrast between what and where the boys are at in their lives, and where Luisa is. “[Luisa] provides the movie's ballast and maturity, a kind of mediating influence between the boys' puppyish vigour and the cold, pitiless detachment of Cuaron's voiceover - and she has the best line in the picture, exasperated with her quarrelling travel companions: "Play with babies and you end up washing diapers!"(Bradshaw). This single phrase depicts the carefree and almost ignorant outlook Tenoch and Julio have on life. However throughout the film this discrepancy between the infantile boys and Luisa is seen dwindling down until ultimately it is no more. When Tenoch and Julio sit in the coffee shop and discuss the death of Luisa towards the conclusion of the film, they realize that not only are they not children anymore, but they aren’t invincible and their lives will never be the same again.
Luisa however was not the only depiction of the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Through the structure of the film Cauron is able to draw the audience into the lives of these young men and make the transition with them as they mature. For example, the movie begins with the boys partying with their friends and trying to meet girls, which was explicitly emphasized by the narrator through their manifesto. However throughout the movie the joy and manifesto Tenoch and Julio hold so dear, begins to lose meaning and credibility, and is eventually dissolved all together. Although it takes time for this to happen, each event on the journey to God’s Mouth is one more straw that would eventually break the camel’s back. It is through this unique and artistic style that the director is able to simultaneously illuminate ideals of politics and growth with very specific and subtle remarks or actions.
Ultimately the film was a masterpiece, and the shock and awe that undoubtedly followed every scene was icing on the cinematic cake. The director did a tremendous job highlighting his key points without boring or overwhelming the audience. It is this style of almost complex simplicity that gives Y Tu Mama Tambien such an extraordinary reputation.
Bradshaw, Peter. "Y Tu Mama Tambien." The Gaurdian 12 April 2002, Web.22 Jul 2009.
Kemet, Mateen. "An Examination of Race and Class in Modern Mexico." Y Tu Mama Tambie (2006) Web.21 Jul 2009.