I’ve heard it said that regardless of which film wins Best Picture, the true indicator of what the film community finds to be the best picture of the year can be found in the screenplay nominees and winners. The screenplay categories are also one of the more likely categories for foreign films to get nominated for, aside from Foreign Language Film. That’s certainly telling right there. Y Tu Mama Tambien, directed by Alfonso Cuaron (who also gave us one of my personal favorites, Children of Men), is one film to get such a nomination, though after seeing it, I’m not too sure it deserved it, aside from sheer uniqueness and/or ingenuity. The film details the road trip adventures of a couple of sexually active young men, and the woman friend who accompanies them, as they go in search of a secluded beach called Heaven’s Mouth, that in reality doesn’t exist. The words “sexually active” are key here; the film has a lot of sex in it, and is pretty much all about sex and what it can do to relationships, both between lovers and friends.
Right from the get-go, the film opens on a young couple going at it like monkeys. It wants you to know, up front, what the film will be dealing with, and it succeeds. Surprisingly enough, though, that wasn’t what bothered me. What bothered me was the film’s propensity to cut the audio in the middle of a scene, often in the middle of a conversation, and insert voiceover exposition to cover a bunch of material that essentially didn’t need to be covered. I’m a big proponent of well-written films that don’t need exposition to cover what should’ve been covered in the material itself, and Y Tu Mama Tambien failed in that aspect for me. I realize that it was a stylistic choice to do so, to help expound upon the setting and characters of the film, but to me, the choice to do so meant that such information wouldn’t be integrated into the script fluidly and seamlessly; it was just dropped on us like a sack of potatoes, and that doesn’t make for a very engaging story. Not to mention the information itself is pretty much entirely extraneous; it expounds on characters and places and events that have no bearing on the story of the film itself, almost like a series of footnotes added in the margins of a book. Why have so much information that’s not pertinent at all to the film in the film to begin with? That question kept rearing its head at me all throughout the film, and I couldn’t figure out how to let it go.
I’d heard of Y Tu Mama Tambien, pretty much since it came out; that’s how prolific and popular it had become in America, but for obvious reasons, I hadn’t seen it. Now that I have, though, I’m not sure if I’d even wanted to. The film itself was decent, but was really one-note; it was all about sex, and that was hammered in over and over with every scene. The cinematography, while handheld, was capable, and didn’t fall into the traps that handheld cameras often fall into, but that’s all that can be said for it. Really, I’m surprised this didn’t fall into the Adult classification with Ai no Corrida; that’s how bull-headed the film is on its topic, and how often it expresses it. If that doesn’t rub you the wrong way, give this a try; otherwise, this might be too repetitive and deliberate for you.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10