F.I.L.M. of the Week (January 10, 2014)

10 01 2014

Alfonso Cuarón is an almost certain nominee for Best Director (although you never know with the Academy’s directors branch, I said Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow were undebatable nominees at this point last year).  If his work on “Gravity” isn’t enough, just look at the incredible stylistic and storytelling diversity of his post-2000 work.  He’s tackled a Harry Potter film (and made the best one, in my opinion), made a dystopian Nativity allegory, and “Y Tu Mamá También,” my pick for the “F.I.L.M. of the Week.”

This 2002 Mexican road trip drama is character driven like “Gravity” but has a lot more to offer in terms of a firm story to follow.  (The original screenplay netted Cuarón and his brother Carlos their first Oscar nominations.)  Even in subtitles, their snappy dialogue has an undeniable pop to it.

The movie follows the exploits of two sexually active teenage boys, Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna), who find themselves suffering from upper-middle-class ennui after their girlfriends go for an extended trip to Italy.  Looking for something to do, they take a spontaneous trip to the beach with the older Luisa (Maribel Verdu) whom they just met at a wedding.

As they drive through the poorer parts of their country to find the beach, the three have frank conversations about love and sexuality.  Eventually, their conversations give way to … well, do I really have to say?!  Don’t watch this movie with anyone with whom you’d feel awkward seeing lots of naked bodies.

But in case that last sentence had you thinking “Y Tu Mamá También” is some kind of smutty pornographic film, you’d be mistaken.  It’s a fascinating character study, a gripping journey, and a bold exploration of what men are really expressing when they enter into love triangles.  I’ve only seen this movie once, but I’d love to give it a second look soon to more closely examine how the surprising ending is foreshadowed and how the film addresses the sociopolitical context of late ’90s Mexico.