Rating and Review:
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Starring: Emilio Echevarria, Gael Garcia Bernal and Vanessa Bauche
Mexico, 2000, 153 minutes
"Amores Perros" (roughly translated as "Loves a Bitch") is a mexican movie that received countless awards and rave from critics worldwide. It tells three different stories that are all linked together at some point in the movie. Ultimately, the stories are about love, hatred and death, and dogs are involved in all three. The love stories are also complicated, a bit twisted, and difficult. Hence the name of the movie.
In many ways, "Amores Perros" looks a lot like "Pulp Fiction". The apparently distinct stories all intertwine, and characters you saw in a previous scene come back later and have their own story. All these characters are involved in a lousy love story, or one that degenerates as the film rolls. Some of these characters kill, some want to kill, and others hire others to kill.
First of all, theres the story of Octavio and Susana. Octavio is the brother of Susanas violent and uncarring husband. He has always been in love with her, and tries to win her over while his brother is away robbing drugstores and banks. He pits his dog against other dogs in violent and illegal dog fights to earn enough money to leave town with Susana.
Then, theres the story of Daniel and Valeria. Daniel recently left his wife Julieta for top model Valeria, and all seems for the better between the two, until a car accident and the disappearance of Valerias pet dog under the apartments floor threatens to tear the couple apart.
Finally, theres the story of El Chivo, an ex-guerilla bum, who lives in a dirty shack, kills the occasional compadre for money, and lives with dogs. Many years ago, El Chivo left his wife and daughter to become a guerilla. Now, after 20 years spent in prison, he wishes for nothing more than seeing his daughter again. But, alas, its not that simple for a near-homeless, dirty criminal.
The greatest thing about this movie is the acting. The actors and actresses all do a wonderful job, and there wasnt one moment when I tought they were overdoing it, or underdoing it. Much of the tension in the movie results from verbal exchanges between the characters, and not only the situation they are in. The characterization is also memorable, as all characters really feel, act and think differently.
The story itself is interesting, if a tad long (almost 2h30), The way it is told is nice too, but weve seen it before. On the other hand, without Hollywood dicating how the movie should end, Inarritu is free to have it end his own way, which is, fortunately, not a happy ending. At least, not for all three stories.
© Sebastien 2002