From September 15 to October 15 we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage month in the U.S. I began to think about all the art, literature, music, and media I enjoy that was created by the Hispanic culture.
For me, imagining the world of art without visionaries like Frida Kahlo, Selena, Jorge Luis Borges, Wifredo Lam, and Guillermo del Toro paving the way feels impossible. So, in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, I thought I would write a love letter to my favorite film made by a Hispanic filmmaker: Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También.
This film is an odyssey to say the least. It tells the story of two teenage best friends named Julio and Tenoch, one coming from a working-class family, and the other pretty well-off, who come of age together in Mexico in 1999. The pair spend their summer wasting away, getting high, and dreaming of new sexual encounters. This all leads up to when they meet the older, beautiful, and recently back on-the-market Luisa. After Julio and Tenoch promise to take Luisa to a fictional beach called Boca del Cielo, the three set off on a winding journey to nowhere in particular.
Without spoilers, it’ll suffice it to say that the three become romantically and sexually entangled in all sorts of different combination. Ultimately, the film ends with the same relationship they all began in, minus one big change.
What sets Y Tu Mamá También apart from other coming of age films is the poignant way it tackles coming to terms with who you are. Although the characters in the film aren’t fully able to express their sexual identities because of the time period, their familial backgrounds, and the setting, there is still something immensely comforting and simultaneously heartbreaking in watching them teeter back and forth between growing closer together, then further apart.
The performances by the three main actors are phenomenal and so incredibly subtle to the point where I felt as though I was an intruder looking in several times throughout the film. The tension that the cast is able to create within all of the different interpersonal dynamics is fascinating to watch and a true marvel.
On top of this, Cuarón added a whole separate layer to the film by choosing to include several scenes showcasing the social, political, and economic backdrop of Mexico in 1999. Through these scenes, Cuarón is able to create a detailed and vivid recreation of the exact setting, while also managing to keep audiences focused on the main narrative.
Everything about Y Tu Mamá También is so natural, and so precise that it just makes you feel more deeply than you might have felt in a while. It has that effect on me, and I don’t doubt that it will make you feel similarly.
I absolutely love this film and I hold it very close to me. Truthfully, this movie changed me in ways I cannot even fully describe. All that I can say is that I am utterly grateful to Alfonso Cuarón for creating this masterpiece of a film, and that I will be celebrating National Hispanic Heritage month by giving Y Tu Mamá También another watch.