Amores Perros Review
Amores Perros subtitled Love's A Bitch is a critically lauded film from Mexico which garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film (Losing to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and earned the director Alejandro González Iñárritu an award at Cannes. It's already garnered a cult following and many big screen cinema chains are now showing the film in a sort of re-release promotion for those who missed it the first time round.
Unfortunately, sitting down and watching Amores Perros isn't as much of a pleasurable experience as it is hyped up to be. The film starts with a breathtaking pace, and begins with a promise that the remainder of the film fails to deliver. Amores Perros is essentially three stories skillfully woven into one, and how often have audiences been fed that sentence as if it represents an original innovation in cinematic narrative? In all honesty, Short Cuts, Nashville, Pulp Fiction and even the woefully-tried-too-hard Magnolia all reached further ground than this Mexican effort.
The first story, 'Octavio and Susana' tells of Cofi the dog's teenage owner Octavio who enters the dog into the brutal world of dog fighting to raise money for his elopement with his criminal brother's young and impregnated wife. The second story, 'Daniel and Valeria' tells of a middle-aged magazine editor who abandons his family to set up housekeeping in a posh apartment with a beautiful young model, but things go horribly wrong when she is house ridden after being tragically injured in a car crash. The final story, 'El Chivo and Maru' a former revolutionary who has now pimped his assasin services for the police force and has decided to attempt to regain his family and normal life.
The clever play on words of 'Love's A Bitch' encapsulates the two main themes of Amores Perros - love of the female and love of the canine, and although the film is a worthy effort it ultimately falls short.
It's a real shame considering how much excitement and raw emotion the first story manages to evoke, and disappointing considering how deathly to the pace of the film the second story is. By the time the quite-good third story weaves its way into the plot the film's edge has been completely destroyed, and even Emilio Echevarria's stunning performance as El Chievo cannot redeem the film. The stories are essentially all linked together through one car crash and through one dog named Cofi. The car crash link has already served two Guy Ritchie films in Snatch and Lock Stock... and even though the links are still fairly tenuous, it is hard not to wonder if another plot thread could have instead been used.
Not to take any achievement from Amores Perros's efforts, as it is a splendid film considering it was by a debut director, and the performances and gritty Mexican locales superbly complement the film's narrative drive. At two and a half hours the story does not justify the length at times. The second story have terrific potential on a Repulsion-esque level, but doesn't really equate to the other stories on the scale of things unless you draw in the both-sides-of-the-economy spectrum. Even so, Amores Perros is a film that is highly worthy of anyone's attention and it shows some good things from the cast and crew involved. Let's hope they go on to bigger and better things.
Note: Even though there are notices at the beginning of the film stressing that no animals were harmed during the production, some viewers may take offence at the dog fighting sequences in the film.