Wednesday, July 4, 2012

952. Amores perros (2000)

Running Time: 153 minutes
Directed By: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Written By: Guillermo Arriaga
Main Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Emilio Echevarria, Goya Toledo, Vanessa Bauche, Alvaro Guerrero
Click here to view the trailer


After seeing "21 Grams", approximately eight years ago, I liked it so much that, when I came across "Amores perros" while shopping for DVD's, I decided to give it a blind buy. I never got around to watching it and when the wife and I cleaned up our DVD collection, many years ago, we decided to sell it. Tonight, I finally got the chance to check it out and I can tell you that selling this gem was a huge mistake.

The film is in the same vein as films like "Pulp Fiction" and "Crash", films that tell multiple stories, repeat scenes from different points of view and connect characters at certain points in the film's narrative. The film is split up into three parts. In the first segment, Octavio (Bernal) as a twenty-something who is in love with his sister-in-law, Susana (Bauche). Octavio can't stand the mistreatment that she receives at the hands of her husband, his brother and often presents the idea of running away with her. She always adamantly refuses, but he continues to try. To earn cash and save up for the day that she accepts his offer, Octavio brings his dog Cofi to the dog fights and learns that he is the owner of one bad-ass pup. In the second story, Daniel (Guerrero) is a married man with two daughters, who is having an affair with a model, Valeria (Toledo). He separates from his wife and buys an apartment for him and his new lover. During their first day together, Valeria goes out to buy some wine, to christen the new abode and gets into a car wreck, breaking her leg in multiple places and being confined to a wheelchair for months. In the third story, El Chivo (Echevarria) is a former guerrilla, practicing hitman, estranged father and homeless, garbage picker. One day, he is approached by a man, who offers him $150,000 to kill his business partner. El Chivo accepts an advance on the job and in the meantime, takes in an abandoned dog - Cofi.


In my experiences with these types of movies, the filmmaker's have to be very careful telling three separate stories and tying them together, especially as loose as the stories in "Amores perros" are tied together. They run the risk of getting the audience attached to the first set of characters and turning them off when they depart that storyline for an entirely new storyline, with an entirely new set of characters. However, this film does an excellent job of making all three stories enticing to the viewer. Honestly, if I were forced to choose a favorite story, I'd be hard pressed to. Each segment had it's strengths and each one stood apart from the others. The first story was a fine opening act and sucked the viewer in. It provided enough information about the subsequent stories to peek our interest and prepare us for what lie ahead. It provided a really great, everyday type story about an everyman pursuing his love interest, which happened to be his sister-in-law. The second story acted as a good halftime show, providing more comedy than the other stories, but still packing in enough poignant moments. That shot of Valeria staring out the window at her billboard, only to discover that it wasn't there anymore, was quite sad. The final story is a perfect cap to the whole tale, giving us the El Chivo character, one that I never expected to be nearly crying for. The scene where he phones his daughter had my eyes welling up.

The whole thing gets wrapped together and the final product is a home run debut for Inarritu. This type of picture is right up my alley. I grew up with "Pulp Fiction" and if ever there were a film to cite for peeking my interest in movies, it's "Pulp". I've always enjoyed stories that were told in that same vein. I like movies that intertwine their characters' lives, show us multiple angles of the same scene and give us those moments of realization when questions start getting answered and we start to piece the puzzle together. As much as I liked this though, if I were forced to pick an Inarritu movie to include in THE BOOK, I would've chosen "21 Grams", a slightly superior picture, in my opinion.

RATING: 9/10  Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new candidate for the TOP 20 and the list making process just got a little bit harder. Sorry for the shortness of this review, but it's late and I have to work in the morning. Goodnight all!


July 4, 2012  1:57am

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