One of the minor injustices in the world is
that non-English speaking actors, regardless of their talents or
credentials, often have to work twice as hard to achieve the same amount
of recognition as their Hollywood brethren.
Such is undoubtedly the case with Gael
Garcia Bernal. Largely unknown, at least by name, to most Western
cinemagoers, the young Mexican has nonetheless been described as ‘the
best actor of his generation’ and has lit up the screen in such classics
of Spanish cinema as Amores Perros and The Motorcycle Diaries.
One can’t help feeling that if Bernal had been born in Los Angeles as
opposed to Jalisco, Mexico he’d presently be being touted as the next
Johnny Depp. As it is, such plaudits may not be so far off.
Along with Amores Perros, Y Tu
Mama Tambien (2001) is where it all began for Bernal. A road
trip par excellence, this coming of age tale revolves around two
childhood friends on the verge of manhood.
Attending an otherwise unspectacular state
wedding, rich-kid Tenoch (Diego Luna) and his working class pal Julio
(Bernal) meet Luisa (Maribel Verdu), the glamorous Spanish wife of
Julio’s philandering cousin. Not wanting to waste the opportunity to
spend more time in her presence, the pair promptly invite Luisa to an
imaginary beach idyll known as Heaven’s Mouth. Wishing to escape the
bonds of her shell of a marriage Luisa takes the boys up on their offer,
and a journey of both spiritual and sexual awakening ensues, set against
the backdrop of politically restless present-day Mexico.
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter
and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Y Tu Mama Tambien enjoyed huge
success both at home and abroad. It currently holds the record for the
highest-grossing opening weekend in Mexican box-office history, and
received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original
Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film.
Given the film’s ostensibly simple premise
much of this success hinges on the performances of the film’s three
leads, which remain richly nuanced and deeply mesmerising throughout.
The trio’s sexual interplay is by turns exquisite, understated,
over-zealous and downright reckless, and the no-holds-barred dialogue is
likewise suitably risqué.
While it engendered some controversy for
its frank depictions of teenage sexuality, Y Tu Mama Tambien
remains an important staple of Mexican cinema. The present HD rendering
is superb and represents the definitive edition of this charming and
compelling film. Picture and audio quality are immaculate and a slew of
bonus features are on offer, including deleted scenes, featurettes and
one of Cuarón’s early shorts, presumably included because it deals with
many of the same themes as the main feature. A director’s commentary
would have been a nice touch, but as it stands this is a highly
impressive edition of one of the most enjoyable and renowned
Spanish-language films of all time.