Alfonso Cuarón’s Mexican rendition of Jules and Jim is as playful and politically scatterbrained as Truffaut’s Nouvelle Vague classic but has the raunchier upper hand: Oskar Werner and Henri Serre never would have thought of doing the horizontal tango. Best friends Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) bid farewell to their girlfriends after coordinated bouts of comic coition. The lonely boys drop E and smoke up while setting their sights on Spanish beauty Luisa (Maribel Verdú), the wife of Tenoch’s loutish cousin Jano (Juan Carlos Remolina). During a family wedding—attended by Mexico’s heavily-guarded president (lest we forget this is a subtly political film)—the horny lotharios plan a road trip to the fictional beach Heaven’s Mouth. Jano’s disclosed extra-marital affair conveniently spurns Luisa to join Julio and Tenoch’s weekend excursion, during which both men are dumbfounded by her out-of-nowhere Jeanne Moreau routine.
Julio and Tenoch are no different than their oversexed American counterparts though Cuarón’s libertine fantasia is perhaps trashier and more in love with itself than any American Pie or Threesome. At the very least, it’s certainly more conscious of and embraces the queer desire that bubbles beneath many hetereosexual friendships. Julio and Tenoch are the strictest of competitors, and in the film’s most delirious sequence, they whack off while lying on diving boards, trying to see who can cum first. The film’s money shot: their semen gloriously falling into the water below. While Tambien’s narration is as decidedly distancing and off-putting as Jules and Jim’s, it’s a necessary evil. Though self-important, the film’s narration is the only indication Cuarón takes the story’s slim political aspirations seriously. Character trajectories are a bit obvious: Luisa goes from kitten to sly fox, getting the upper hand and pointing out Julio and Tenoch’s hypocritical foibles (as well as their latent gay lust).
Emmanuel Lubezki’s camerawork is grainy and textured; his palette heightens the haziness of the trio’s trip to nowhere when Julio’s turn onto a random road accidentally leads them to the real Heaven’s Mouth. Unknown to Julio and Tenoch because of its sacredness, the beach is a secret place tucked away from an imposing imperialism. Pigs invade Julio and Tenoch’s campsite and the loss of a fisherman’s waterside home suggests that this little piece of paradise will ultimately be lost to foreign commerce. If Luisa’s sexual voraciousness seems inexplicable, there is method to her madness; her tartness becomes part of a Madonna/Whore complex laid bare by a final revelation. She turns her boys into men just as Julio and Tenoch accept themselves as “milk brothers” (they both ejaculated inside each other’s girlfriends). Y Tu Mamá También (because Julio did Tenoch’s mother) is really two films in one. Cuarón’s sexual and political lines don’t mesh deeply enough yet the film’s colorful celebration of unbridled teen lust will set gringo hearts afire.