When ‘Y Tu Mamá También’ Changed Everything


Mexican cinema, Alfonso Cuarón’s “Y Tu Mama Tambian“His journey of self-discovery and the study of a country in flux was published there in 2001 and instantly achieved landmark status.

Structured as a journey from Mexico City to an idyllic beach in Oaxaca, the film revolves around a love triangle involving upper-class teen Tenoch (Diego Luna), his humble best friend Julio (Gael García Bernal), and a Spaniard. visitor, Luisa (Maribel Verdú). He challenges men’s immature notions of masculinity against the backdrop of a society that had its first taste of democracy after seven decades under the rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party known as the PRI.

The blockbuster film in Mexico before its release at the Venice Film Festival in August represented a return for the director not only to Mexico after a stint in Hollywood, but also to his passion for cinema. And it saw the birth of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s naturalistic film grammar. But the film’s greater impact lies in the sexual openness it portrays, which has resulted in the most restrictive rating from the Mexican government; implicit questioning of traditional masculinity in a culture where machismo is rooted; and his sharp approach to class issues in a nation of agonizing inequalities.

I spoke with stars and filmmakers from far away, including Carlos Cuarón, the brother of the director who co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay, about their memories of making the film, the changes it brought to their careers, and its reception in Mexico. When a sexual encounter between two children is controversial. These are edited excerpts from these conversations.

Where were you in your career when you became “Y Tu Mamá También”? Was it a turning point?

ALFONSO CUARÓN: At that point I had let the industry seduce me, and that’s where my confusion started because I forgot about the cinema. It’s a myth that the industry corrupts you, you corrupt yourself. I’m shooting my first movie in Hollywood,”a little princess” [1995], it was great, but then I made another movie,”great expectations” [1998] which I never understood. I started watching many movies that I liked. That’s when I called my brother and said, “Let’s write a movie.”

CARLOS CUARÓN: Y Tu Mama TambianIt was a conceptual idea that Alfonso and I had even before his first movie.Solo con tu pareja“The movie is inspired by the travels we took during our teenage years. Neither my brother nor I have done this with a beautiful Spanish woman. [Laughs] We were working on it while we were apart for about 10 years. But then a really good project that Alfonso had in the US fell apart, and what would become my first feature film here in Mexico fell apart. Alfonso lived in New York and called me. “What if we do ‘Y Tu Mamá También’?” I flew to New York using his frequent flyer miles and we got to work. [Laughs]

DIEGO LUNA: This is the first time I understood [I] it might have an access that I didn’t imagine possible. I grew up mostly in theater in Mexico, and I thought mostly in the context of my community there. But “Y Tu Mamá” was like an awakening for me. What impressed me the most was the distance between me and my family and friends after this movie. I started working in other countries to spend long periods away from home to the point where I questioned where my home actually was. It could be exciting, but it was also agonizing because you feel lost, like you don’t belong anywhere.

GAEL GARCÍA BERNAL: When I did “Amores Perros” [his first movie, in 2000] I explored this universe without knowing anything about the madness of filmmaking. With “Y Tu Mamá También”, Alfonso was at a time in his life for over a year when he was very open to involving us actors in the process. We learned the basics of cinema! What I take with me to every film I make is that, as an important requirement, there should be a sense of brotherhood as it was then.

MARIBEL GIVES: I have been working since I was 13, so I would continue to work in Latin America and in my country no matter what, but thanks to “Y Tu Mamá También” I became known abroad. I gained international recognition not just for any movie, but for this prestigious and important movie. I met through Mexico [Alfonso] and eventually made other films with Mexican directors.”

What do you think are some of the reasons that made “Y Tu Mamá También” successful?

ALFONSO CUARÓN: Some of it is obvious. Putting teens in situations involving sex will always be appealing to a certain audience. But I hope “Y Tu Mamá También” has surpassed that, because we set out not to be “American Pie”. We wanted the sex scenes to make a point about these characters and the social elements we play with like class and the notions of masculinity these characters have.

CARLOS CUARÓN: This portrait of adolescence, with its failings and virtues, was some of the many factors that Maribel provided, and the tremendous chemistry between the narrator, Diego, and Gael, who didn’t tell but contextualized events and helped us avoid revealing scenes. None of us who did this thought it would be this successful. When we wrote the script, we didn’t know who would dare to do it.

LUNA: This is a great movie of course, but not all great movies come at the right time. “Y Tu Mamá También” had such a chance. It found an audience who needed a journey like the movie suggests. The movie talks about basic relationships and it’s easy for you to reflect on that. It’s also a movie that portrays a Mexico that seems to have been hidden before. The way he portrayed economic inequality and class conflict was very painful for some at the time. Many people ask, “Why are you describing Mexico this way?” I remember you complaining. But he also painted the beauty the country has to offer.

GARCÍA BERNAL: It caused a split among Mexican audiences. Many people had a positive connection with the movie, but it angered pearl hunters. [Laughs] Some viewers felt a certain discomfort with the sexual openness or the fact that the film vaguely touched on gay themes. All this created a dialogue. Outside of Mexico, what this movie instills in you is beyond the will to live. When you leave the theater, you want to go to the beach and embark on a crazy adventure.

VERDÚ: I believe in originality. It’s a documentary-like movie. It looks like something improvised, but there’s a lot of work behind it. There [were] The rehearsals are tight but to make it seem like everything is happening right in front of us. It’s so magical and the audience felt it too.

We are currently experiencing a reckoning on masculinity. Did you think back then what the relationship between these two young men had to say on the subject?

ALFONSO CUARÓN: I’ve talked a lot about this with Guillermo del Toro, Carlos and Chivo. [Emmanuel Lubezki]. It would be assertive to say that the debates are about masculinity because these conversations are happening more and more now, but we were trying to discover it without using that language. It becomes more obvious at some point. There is a moment when Luisa tells them, “All you want is to have sex with each other.”

CARLOS CUARÓN: I remember very well people swearing and whistling when Diego and Gael kissed at the premiere in Mexico City. “Thank you for showing the Mexican macho image openly for the first time,” said a gay friend, a theater and film director, during this premiere. I asked him what this image was and he said, “Julio and Tenoch are kissing.”

LUNA: We always said we were making a love story between two men. In discussions about the ending, people have asked us to label what it means. The movie suggests something, but leaves that decision up to the viewer. That’s what good movies do. They make questions. They are not answering.

GARCÍA BERNAL: The 2000s were a turning point. At that time, the teenager, myself included, began to have a very different vision of sex, and given that masculinity was and is in tremendous crisis, the dividing lines between the sexes began to fade. I’m pretty sure this movie can’t be shot in the USA. We have more freedom of expression in the cinema in Mexico because we can put things together more independently.

VERDÚ: In this respect, the film was ahead of its time. It shows things that no one else did back then. Nobody dared.

In the final scene, the narrator tells us that Tenoch and Julio never saw each other again. Do you trust the narrator or do you think they reconnect?

LUNA: I don’t believe the narrator. I think they somehow met again. It’s hard to think they didn’t. Curiosity probably brought them together. This is what I want to believe because nothing in life is certain.

ALFONSO CUARÓN: I questioned this. At one point, Carlos and I talked about the possibility of making a movie about it. [them] but now in his forties. Unfortunately, I think it would be very sad. I have a somewhat pessimistic outlook on life. Tenoch probably followed in his father’s footsteps as a banker rather than as a politician. And I don’t think Julio has a good relationship with women. But they both have a beautiful soul and possibility to reconnect and what unites them is what is missing in their lives. Perhaps talking about the past serves as a catalyst for the second part of their life. That’s a nice way to look at it. Maybe Diego is right.

CARLOS CUARÓN: If the narrator said that, they never saw each other again. if they [did] It probably happened by accident. I truly believe that life separates them. I don’t think they saw each other again, not because they hated each other, but because they loved each other so much.

GARCÍA BERNAL: I’m sure they will meet again, but the narrator says what his parents wanted to say. Now that we’re over 40, we need to do a merge between Julio and Tenoch.

VERDÚ: They never saw each other again. I am convinced. Their relationship was not real. For example, you see it when someone enters the other’s house and lifts the toilet lid with his foot so as not to touch it. They came from different backgrounds. They went on a trip with that Spanish woman and enjoyed it as part of their sexual awakening. He united them for the moment, then disappeared and disappeared from each other’s lives. And that’s it.


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