Y Tu Mama Tambien is a road movie, a quest for the paradise of the imagination, a place they call Heaven’s Mouth. It’s also a coming-of-age movie about innocence lost, though for the two teen-aged Lotharios it’s the kind of innocence that’s perhaps best left behind. And it’s also a movie about innocence reclaimed, if only for a moment, its traces soon washed away in the gentle waves of eternity.
Julio’s girlfriend’s mother, a Lacanian analyst, asserts that the kids’ relationship is innocent. If so then it’s an innocence characterized by self-indulgence. But it’s not an entirely limitless hedonism: there’s the Charolastra Manifesto (yesterday’s post), recited gleefully by Julio and his best friend Tenoch near the beginning of the long drive from the big city to the sea. It’s the passenger in the car, Luisa, the older woman, the object of the boys’ seduction fantasies, who exposes the emptiness of the code and the duplicity of its adherents. As they drive down the road she lays down her own law (in a comment to yesterday’s post), the law of the Big mOther, naked but untouchable — the kind of law that spawns not mere licentiousness but good-old-fashioned desire.
The two Manifestos reveal one kind of portal in this movie; Heaven’s Mouth is another. Then there’s the car, the means of passage between realities. A lot happens inside the car; a lot more happens when the car stops. But what’s happening on the road, outside the car, as they make passage?
- The car passes a VW bug bedecked with flowers — a couple of newlyweds. Julio’s radio is playing a cover of an old BeeGees tune: “you don’t know what it’s like to love somebody…”
- We watch from the side of the highway as the car drives by, the camera positioned next to a couple of hand-made crosses. Marked on one of the crosses: INRI Adolfo Rios 1955.
- All of Mexico goes past, with its bleak and magnificent landscapes, its picturesque and impoverished vilages.
- At one point the narrator tells us that one of these villages, Tepelmeme, is the birthplace of Tenoch’s nanny, an Indian woman who has cared for Tenoch since his birth, whom Tenoch called “Mama” until he was four. Tenoch says nothing about it; the car whizzes by.
- A barricade blocks their passage. It’s a festival of some sort; a woman comes to the car window asking for a contribution for “the Queen.” As the car passes we see two men stoically holding up a lawn chair on which is seated a young and smiling girl wearing a bridal gown.
- Luisa, whose parents died in an automobile accident, tells the two boys that her first boyfriend too was killed on the road. The narrator interjects: if ten years ago the car had passed this very spot on the road they would have come upon an overturned smoldering truck with two bodies lying next to it and a woman standing over them crying inconsolably. Out the window of the car we see two more roadside crosses.
- On the roadside we watch some military policemen searching two cars. Then the road is blocked temporarily by a herd of cattle. After awhile the cattle move aside and the car starts up again. A police truck passes them, then pulls off the road. Through the back window we watch the police jump from the truck and start frisking some men standing by the roadside.
- The car passes a large group of people walking slowly up the road. Some men are carrying a coffin — it’s a funeral procession. The car passes the cemetery, where a burial is underway.
- As Luisa recites her alternative manifesto the car whizzes by another roadside cross, another police shakedown, some women washing clothes in a stream. As soon as Luisa lays down her tenth and final law — “You’re not allowed to contradict me” — they arrive at the end of the road, which is the sea.