The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
"Y Tu Mama Tambien" is described on its Web site as a "teen drama," which is like describing "Moulin Rouge" as a musical. The description is technically true but sidesteps all of the reasons to see the movie. Yes, it's about two teenage boys and an impulsive journey with an older woman that involves sexual discoveries. But it is also about the two Mexicos. And it is about the fragility of life and the finality of death. Beneath the carefree road movie that the movie is happy to advertise is a more serious level--and below that, a dead serious level.
The movie, whose title translates as "And Your Mama, Too," is another trumpet blast that there may be a New Mexican Cinema a-bornin'. Like "Amores Perros," which also stars Gael Garcia Bernal, it is an exuberant exercise in interlocking stories. But these interlock not in space and time, but in what is revealed, what is concealed, and in the parallel world of poverty through which the rich characters move.
The surface is described in a flash: Two Mexican teenagers named Tenoch and Julio, one from a rich family, one middle class, are free for the summer when their girlfriends go to Europe. At a wedding they meet Luisa, 10 years older, the wife of a distant cousin; she's sexy and playful. They suggest a weekend trip to the legendary beach named Heaven's Mouth. When her husband cheats on her, she unexpectedly agrees, and they set out together on a lark.
This level could have been conventional but is anything but, as directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Carlos. Luisa kids them about their sex lives in a lighthearted but tenacious way, until they have few secrets left, and at the same time she teases them with erotic possibilities. The movie is realistic about sex, which is to say, franker and healthier than the smutty evasions forced on American movies by the R rating. We feel a shock of recognition: This is what real people do and how they do it, sexually, and the MPAA has perverted a generation of American movies into puerile masturbatory snickering.