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Amores Perros (2000)

Art House & International and Drama movie directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

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Life's an abused pup.

  • Jun 18, 2011
***1/2 out of ****

"Amores Perros" is as bleak as most movies come, and it also launched the career of a very good filmmaker, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. It has about the same amount of appeal as any other Inarritu film, and if you've seen one of his follow-up movies, then you'll know what to expect. I saw most of Inarritu's films before I saw his debut picture. Maybe that was the right place to start. But then again, maybe it wasn't. Inarritu's films are so richly absorbing and powerful that one cannot simply "adapt" to the man's style, for he does not possess uniqueness but rather skill. Here, he has made an art film no different from any other on a stylistic level, but that's probably why I found it as good as it was.

The film itself is a grim and troubled thing. "Amores Perros" has been described as the "Spanish Pulp Fiction", which will turn many heads its way. People love "Pulp Fiction", and no matter what they take out of such an exclamation/statement, they'll get what they came for. "Amores Perros" has the same narrative style as "Pulp Fiction", in the sense that it is an anthology film, and I can imagine a "Pulp Fiction" enthusiast enjoying it, but comparing the films is kind of irrelevant. They are both very different from each-other, but then again, which two films are not?

This is where I begin to describe the vague but important-to-know details of the first segment in this anthology-style narrative. It is titled "Octavio and Susana", which is a name taken from the names of its two titular characters. Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal) is a lonely pothead who lives with his brother and his brother's beautiful wife, whom his brother abuses frequently. She is Susana (Vanessa Bauche); a woman who Octavio secretly lusts after due to her beauty, her personality, and the sense of danger that may come from loving her in the same house of his brother. Octavio insists on running away one day with Susana and her new-born child; away from troubles, and away from his diabolical brother. But to do so, Octavio must save up, and to do this, he enters the family dog into dog-fights. The dog is a winner for some time, but then tragedy strikes, and the dog is injured by a bad sport.

The second installment in the anthology is the middle-child, and its name is "Daniel and Valeria". It stars Alvaro Guerrero and Goya Toledo as a semi-couple grieving over a tragic accident which put the dear madam in a wheel-chair. The two titular characters are living together; and the man works while the woman stays home and strolls around their home in her wheelchair. Valeria is a supermodel, and this accident may affect her future, maybe even prevent it. So she spends her days playing with the family dog, Richie, who one day follows a ball down a hole in the floor and never returns. In the night, Valeria hears his whimpers, and it determined that the canine is still alive, although Daniel is doubtful.

The final installment is called "El Chivo and Maru". It involves a presumably poor man who we have seen throughout the film, and what his REAL life is all about. As it turns out, he's a professional hit-man who uses this "poor, nearly homeless man" as an alternate persona. He appears an old, worn-out man with a scruffy beard and messy, gray hair. He doesn't look so good, but by the end, he's undergone an unforgettable transformation. That's really all I can give out when it comes to his story, because spoiling the messy details might be a critical crime.

In the end, each story is linked by one event: a fatal car crash.

Director Inarritu's film looks magnificent. His cinematic techniques blend very well with the cinematography, which gives the film the appropriately gritty and realistic film that it's going for. The film is not a happy one, and the scenes of animal-and-human violence alike are not always easy to watch, but through the unbearable pain comes brilliance, and "Amores Perros" is definitely some kind of brilliant.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is part of the new Spanish cinematic movement; a time in which brilliant Spanish filmmakers make brilliant films. Inarritu didn't make his mark until "Babel", but that was also the time when Guillermo Del Toro made "Pan's Labyrinth", and when Alfonso Cuaron made "Children of Men". These are all brilliant Spanish filmmakers, and I'm glad to have experienced films by each one of them. Inarritu, being one of them, should be proud. He is a hard worker with ambitious visions, and a lot of talent as both a story-teller and a bleak visualizer. I admire "Amores Perros", and I would recommend it to anyone willing to explore the dark, brutally realistic realms of filmmaking, and if you are reading this review right now, I'll assume you're willing to take a walk on the dark side.

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More Amores Perros (2000) reviews
review by . February 19, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
'Amores Perros' impressed the hell out of me this afternoon. Three interrelated tales of the darker side of life in contemporary Mexico City, each one as fresh and as fascinating as the last. Each of the three stories are dark, disturbing and filled with humanity. Superbly acted all round, but especially noteworthy is the standout performance by Emilio Echevarria as El Chivo, a political dissident turned hit man, and if the charismatic Gael Garcia Bernal (Octavia, the lovesick dog fighter) isn't …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


Amores Perrosroughly translates to "Love's a bitch," and it's an apt summation of this remarkable film's exploration of passion, loss, and the fragility of our lives. In telling three stories connected by one traumatic incident, Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu uses an intricate screenplay by novelist Guillermo Arriaga to make three movies in close orbit, expressing the notion that we are defined by what we lose--from our loves to our family, our innocence, or even our lives. These interwoven tales--about a young man in love with his brother's pregnant wife, a perfume spokeswoman and her married lover, and a scruffy vagrant who sidelines as a paid killer--are united by a devastating car crash that provides the film's narrative nexus, and by the many dogs that the characters own or care for. There is graphic violence, prompting a disclaimer that controversial dog-fight scenes were harmless and carefully supervised, but what emerges fromAmores Perrosis a uniquely conceptual portrait of people whom we come to know through their relationship with dogs. The film is simultaneously bleak, cynical, insightful, and compassionate, with layers of meaning that are sure to reward multiple viewings.--Jeff Shannon
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Screen Writer: Guillermo Arriaga
DVD Release Date: September 25, 2001
Runtime: 154 minutes
Studio: Lions Gate
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