‘Tambien’ isn’t the start of a new wave of cinema that many critics have been labelling it, in fact its the revival of one of the oldest of genres – the road movie.
‘Tambien’ takes an essentially dead piece of subject matter and injects it with a vivacious and energy filled sense of life by combining it with a good deal of sex, sexual tension, country history/politics, coming of age elements, and the occassional “Amelie” style voiceover about destinies and events with a very loose relation to the main story.
This coming of age story doesn’t get it right each time, some of its comedy elements don’t click or seem tired, but it does show off Mexico with no hesitation of balancing moments of natural beauty and splendor with some of the more harsher realities of society.
The cast is superb. All three of the leads give effective and powerful performances and when the material changes from light fun to far more serious and challenging work, none of them miss a beat – Verdu especially gives a career making performance as a woman hit hard by personal tragedy and yet so eager to embrace as much life as she can.
As the film continues and the story changes from light ‘stoner’ fun to more effective personal drama and revelations between the characters, we literally see the young characters grow up in front of our eyes in scenes of quite effective real life tension which rings true throughout (these guys really do talk like teenagers).
A real sense of tragedy and sad unspokeness cuts through the story to leave us with one of the more downbeat and yet still rockingly powerful endings you’ll see in a while, but that’s offset by some absolutely gorgeous imagery of Mexico’s coastline and surrounding areas.
It’s also refreshing to see a film so relaxed, open and casual about sex in terms of both discussion and showing it off onscreen. Nudity and simulated sex abound, Cuaron directs these rather passionate scenes with both the awkwardness and steaminess that comes part in parcel with not only the act but the character ages/experiences too (though how many guys do you know that cum THAT quickly and recently separated women who are THAT wild?).
In a film where its darker more personal moments are the highlights, whether it be Verdu crying alone in her room to scenes of tension between the two guys in confined spaces (cars, hotel rooms, coffee shops, etc.), it still leaves one with a great sense of energy and excitement about being alive.
It has grabbed that most North American of genres and switched it around into something different and with more personality than pretty much any film you’ll see this year. Stunning work from all those involved and a must see for fans of good cinema.