Amores Perros
(Love's a B*tch)

amores perros

Amores Perros
Made in: Mexico
Language: Spanish
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu
Starring: Emilio Echevarría, Gael García Bernal, Vanessa Bauche, Marco Pérez, Goya Toledo, Álvaro Guerrero, Rodrigo Murray, Jorge Salinas
Year: 2000

Synopsis: Dog fighting. Shooting. Stabbing. Robbery. Cussing. Money. Sex. Head-butting. J-walking.

No, this isn't a look back at any particular presidential election. Rather, it's a quick description of what you'll see in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's highly acclaimed drama, which won a number of international awards as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

At nearly three hours, Amores Perros is an intense drama/thriller about a horrific car accident and the life-changing consequences that follow in the lives of several people who come from three completely different walks of life.

There's struggling Octavio (Gael García Bernal), who's living with his mother and totally enamored with Susana (Vanessa Bauche). Entering the gruesome world of underground dog-fighting, Octavio hopes to win enough prize money to whisk Susana and her child away from her abusive husband, Ramiro (Marco Pérez), who happens to be Ocatvio's brother.

Then there's the story of advertising hot-shot Daniel (Álvaro Guerrero), an unfaithful family man who leaves everything to be with Valeria (Goya Toledo), a supermodel. When Valeria suffers a serious injury that prevents her from working, she and Daniel are forced to confront and evaluate their sense of self-worth when material comforts fail them.

And finally, there's the tale of El Chivo (Emilio Echevarría), a hitman with a complicated history who lives like a vagrant. When he takes in an injured dog and finds himself hired for another job, he too finds himself on a painful journey of self-realization.

The Good: Although it came out four years earlier, this is the movie that Paul Haggis' Crash wished it could be.

Harrowing and gritty, Amores Perros is a very well told, well-developed film. Iñárritu often moves the camera in a hand-held, documentary fashion which I'm sure every film geek in the world noticed soon after the movie was released. It's worth mentioning though, since it works very well in making you, the viewer, feel more connected with the action and the lives of the characters.

Each of the film's "chapters" is complete, and by the end (and you'll be glad when it's over) nothing feels fragmented or disjointed.

The strongest part of this foreign film is the way in which Iñárritu weaves recurring themes and visual elements throughout the stories of otherwise unrelated characters, and how their paths unknowingly cross at times.

The device is very effective, and helps make the powerful point that neither class, wealth, poverty, nor life circumstances will protect us from the type of suffering that shows us what we're really made of (or exposes us for what we really are).

The bad: As powerful, realistic, and expertly crafted as this film is, it's not for everyone. There's a lot of profanity, so if you're offended by bad language that'll be an instant turn-off.

The violence, although not meant to be glorified, is pretty disturbing and hard to watch as well...especially if you're a dog-lover. Luckily for me, no beagles were in this movie.

Who would like this movie: If you're into gritty stories and dramas about the darker sides of life, this film is for you. I'd definitely recommend this film if you enjoyed City of God. Overall, Amores Perros is a powerful exploration of life's crueler moments, and deftly handled without spiraling into downright pessimism.

(3 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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