Cuaron’s greatest film to date in 2001 and a masterpiece
It marks a visual departure of sorts for Cuaron- it’s more naturalistic in the set design and lighting (frankly the entire mise-en-scene)—it’s not loaded in a sea of green
It had broad comedy elements like his debut Sólo con Tu Pareja – and the lead there does the voice over here (though this one is much funnier – featuring far superior writing) but there’s a real social texture here- comments on politics and class
Certainly it has connective tissue with Truffaut’s Jules and Jim with the two guys going for one girl dynamic— many similar scenes
Formally it’s meticulously set forth- we have long takes (largely handheld) most feature tracking shots…. Then the audio drops off and the film goes mute—then we get a voice-over comment on the background of the situation, character motivations, side stories- really well done and a determined aesthetic choice carried on throughout
It’s Cuaron’s 4th film, and del Toro had Cronos in 1993—but with this in 2001, Devil’s Backbone (which I don’t quite put in the class of Cuaron’s or Inarritu’s film), and Amorres Perros (2000) we have the Mexican New Wave here and it’s lasted until least 2018 with 4 of the last 5 (and could be another one with Cuaron in 2018) deserved best director Oscar wins and these three doing tremendous work
Opening shot- Harold and Maude poster with nudity and long handheld camera take, goes mute and then voice over—sets the tone- and clearly we have a “Maude” here who is going to teach the two protagonists about life- absolutely love it.
Great long tracking shot along the car as they talk about their manifesto
We touch on the social texture- demonstrations, Maids (which could be connected again to Roma) and how Diego Luna’s character called her mom), cooks—the details of the lives around these central three
There’s pain here- tragedy- in Maribel Verdu’s character exorcised through sex- not unlike Brando in Last Tango
Three incredibly rich characters- envy
The puka shells are very 2001- make me nostalgic
One of the social texture sequences that is touching is Chuy- the 4th generation fisherman who had to be relocated and the end of the line of fisherman because of a resort relocation
The high-point shot- the hilarious drinking long take which follows her to the jukebox, then her dancing with the camera and looking at the camera- masterful
The epilogue meeting in the coffee shop—sobering—different hair—awkward- such a nice touch and the devastating “they will never meet again”
[…] Y tu mamá también – Cuaron […]
Another viewing and I can’t agree with you that Maribel Verdú is not not one of the best performances of 2001.
I absolutely adored her work.
Roger Ebert’s review of her performance:
“The key performance is by Maribel Verdu as Luisa. She is the engine that drives every scene she’s in, as she teases, quizzes, analyzes and lectures the boys, as if impatient with the task of turning them into beings fit to associate with an adult woman. In a sense she fills the standard role of the sexy older woman, so familiar from countless Hollywood comedies, but her character is so much more than that–wiser, sexier, more complex, happier, sadder.”
@MASH- I gave her a sort of combined mention for this and Pan’s Labyrinth on the 2006 page http://thecinemaarchives.com/2021/12/10/2006/
Do you think Penelope Cruz would be an even better choice for this role?
@MASH- not sure, how about you? I think Verdú does very solid work so I do not think so necessarily but I think highly of Cruz. There probably isn’t much she couldn’t do.
I don’t want to replace Verdú either. It just came to my mind. Louisa is supposed to be 28-ish in the movie and Cruz was 27 in 2001 so she definitely fits the age. So it was a fun idea that popped in my head.