Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Yo Tambien" (me too), the movie

Below is a movie review of "Yo Tambien." A movie I definitely want to watch. It's in Spanish and it's about a man with Down syndrome that graduated from a university. He is caught between two worlds of those who have Down syndrome and those who are typical. He doesn't feel like he belongs to either group. He falls in love with a typical woman. The movie is about their story.

It brings up an interesting topic that I have discussed with some of my mom friends who also have a child with Down syndrome. How do you address Down syndrome in your home and with your child who has it? My parents know someone who know someone whose child has down syndrome and they never told him he had it. They raised him as normally as they could and never mentioned Down syndrome. In high school some kids were making fun of him and told him he could not do a), b) and c) because he had Down syndrome. When he told his parents they asked him what he thought about it. He said, “I can do a), b), and c) so I must not have Down syndrome.” I met someone recently that seems to be the other extreme. Her daughter had a crush on a boy and she told her that she had no chance because she had Down syndrome and the boy did not. I remember thinking, WHY, why not let her have a crush, what harm is it doing, haven't we all had a crush on someone that was out of our league? Obviously most people fall somewhere in the middle and wouldn't go to either extreme. I plan on being honest with Jimmy although I don't plan on crushing his dreams even if I don't think they will ever pan out. I think he should show off his mad skills and say and I can do it even though I have Down syndrome...so boo-yah! I hope he feels the same way.



When writing reviews for film festival movies, there are a few adjectives I've learned I will probably drop from my vocabulary: heart-warming, light, sweet... They're good adjectives for other movies, to be sure, (if a bit overused at times), but they have no place here. Nope. No way.

So when I saw Yo, También, I wasn't exactly sure how I planned to describe it, for that is what it is: heart-warming, light and sweet. It made me (and the rest of the audience) burst out laughing at times, and it stunned me silent at others. It's not the sort of movie you would expect to see at a film festival, and I love it for that.

Yo, También is the story of Daniel, a Spanish man who has Down's Syndrome. His mother decided when he was small that he was just as capable as anyone else of going to university, and so he attended and earned a degree in educational psychology. Now, he is working and living in the world just like any other regular person, and for that, he feels caught in between two worlds.

We see the parallels between the two lives he could have lead: the one he has, where he has his intelligence, his independence, his ability to hold down a normal job and interact with regular people on a daily basis, and the one that so many other people with the same syndrome lead: he watches through the window of the school for disabled people where he works in administration and envies their relative ignorance of their situation. He watches as a young couple of people with the syndrome fall in love (think The Other Sister) and rebel against their parents when they want to be treated as adults. Daniel has never known this, always having been treated as “normal” by his parents, but this normalcy or semblance thereof will become Daniel's weight to bear.

It is in falling in love with a “normal” girl, Laura, that he truly starts to question everything that he is. He cannot help wanting to be with people on his intellectual level, but, as his brother says, “No normal girl is ever going to fall in love with you.”

But the story is not only Daniel's: the woman he falls in love with is another person who does not fit in, no matter where she goes. She is estranged from her family, she does not know how to be in love. When they find one another, their friendship is the only thing that makes them both feel normal, and yet, for Daniel, this is not enough.

The story is sad, but you cannot cry: there is too much fun and happiness going on in the movie. Daniel talks to Laura about the characteristics of Down's Syndrome as though they were talking about hair color, and he sometimes uses them at her expense: he pretends not to know how to tie his shoes to get a look down her top, and at one point, while they argue in an elevator, he acts “subnormal” and causes Laura to be berated by innocent do-gooders hoping to help an innocent disabled man.

It is the juxtaposition between Daniel's lightheartedness about his condition that allows the movie to venture into deeper and darker terrain: the first time that Daniel (and the other Down's syndrome couple) make love, the fact that they are treated by “normal” people as children although they themselves feel as though they are adults. Even a bittersweet ending cannot take away from the heart-warming attributes of this film (and yes, I used a non-festival adjective).

- Emily Monaco


  1. I agree with you Christi...as a parent you don't tell your kids "what they can't do", you tell them they "can do anything as long as they work hard at it"...I tell Bella that things don't come easy....it's important that they have something to strive for.... goodluck little mama!!!


  2. I think our job as parents is to show our kids what they can achieve not what they can't. My favorite example to use with Mackenzie is that Michael Jordan didn't even make his high school basketball team. He was that bad. But, he loved the sport and he worked and worked and worked and taught himself to be the best. I think we teach our kids what their limitations are, and if we never act like they're limited then they'll never feel limited.


  3. I'm so glad you are Jimmy's mommy!