There are plenty of boys-to-men films about the raunchy adventures of pleasure-seeking teenagers, but Alfonso Cuarón's inspired and exhilarating road movie Y Tu Mamá También taps so directly into their teeming energy that it all but levitates off the screen. Its heroes, a pair of raffish young scoundrels and layabouts who care about nothing outside their own gratification, could fit in well with the decadent monsters in Larry Clark films like Kids and Bully. But rather than scold them for bad behavior, Cuarón understands that maturity and awareness will come later. For now, their carnal desires are just too potent to be denied, and the film gets off on their excitement and sense of possibility. Lively, quick-witted, and sexy, Y Tu Mamá También has a practiced spontaneity that's perfect for the genre, dotting the roadside with local color and bits of commentary that pop up subtly on the periphery. With apologies to the French New Wave classic Jules And Jim, Cuarón swipes the basic mènage à trois scenario and the omniscient narrator to tell the story of best friends driven apart by their obsession with the same woman. Though markedly different in social background, Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal are a virtually indistinguishable pair, riffing off each other in a syncopated stream of crude jokes, sexual fantasies, and constant one-upmanship. Left to a listless summer as their girlfriends tour Europe, Luna and Bernal conspire to seduce the voluptuous Maribel Verdú, an older woman unhappily married to Luna's arrogant cousin (Juan Carlos Remolina). When Verdú unexpectedly accepts their offer to visit Heaven's Mouth, a nonexistent beach paradise with warm sand and a roof of stars, the three take off on a five-day journey with an uncertain end point, indulging in numerous vices along the way. As the wise and sexually experienced woman who makes men out of her leering charges, Verdú is a coming-of-age cliché, the embodiment of pure adolescent fantasy. Yet Cuarón and Verdú turn her into a real character, with genuine appetites and weaknesses that belie her role as a teacher and draw her into an emotionally perilous romantic triangle. Returning to Mexico after a sojourn in Hollywood that included the wonderful A Little Princess and the pretty but misbegotten Great Expectations, Cuarón directs with relaxed assurance, soaking in the burnished splendor of the countryside while dropping sly observations about politics, class, and human nature. The main advantage (and pitfall) of the road movie is that anything can happen, beyond the strictures of three acts and an arc. In the wild and consistently surprising Y Tu Mamá También, anything isn't the half of it.
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