Amores Perros (2000) (R)
This review contains SPOILERS!
All hail Quentin Tarantino!
Oh sorry...that was the opening for another review. Or was it?
If you look up anything about "Amores Perros" our dear friend Quentin Tarantino pops up time and time again and maybe that's because the story telling structure that the movie has so closely something like "Pulp Fiction" where multiple stories converge and time is displaced without care.
Car wrecks, broken legs, missing dogs, dog fights, stolen money—it sounds like it should be a crime movie; but separating itself into three parts, the movie's running time exhausts its novelty and its story.
The title translating to "Love's a Bitch" kind of gives you a clue of where director Alejandro González Iñárritu is coming from. It's a story devoid of sentimentality that tries its best to succeed on just its narrative value and after two hours of going nowhere, it's less enjoyable to feel the wheels churning underneath your feet.
"Amores Perros" begins with the showcasing of dog fighting. If you are an animal lover or squeamish in any way, these scenes will make or break you, not because they are exceedingly violent; but because the film manages to convince you of its animal brutality. Similar to a film like "Sátántangó", "Amores Perros" is seamless in its violence; but that's not necessarily what's supposed to make the movie glorious. Unlike Tarantino (you'll find a lot of cross-referncing in this review), Alejandro González Iñárritu doesn't seem to relish in the violence and it certainly doesn't contain it just for aesthetic pleasure.
There are three distinct story lines:
The first one contains Octavio (Gael García Bernal) and Susana (Vanessa Bauche). Susana is married to Octavio's brother, Ramiro (Marco Pérez) and they have a child together, but everything isn't hunky dory. He's fairly abusive and extremely jealous, even though he is the one who's seen cheating. Octavio obviously has feelings for Susana; but he doesn't have the means to care for a wife and a baby so he does nothing...until a stroke of ill-fated, violent luck falls into Octavio's hand.
The head honcho dude in dog fighting, Jarocho (Gustavo Sánchez Parra), is nothing short of a psychopath. He enjoys sicking his dog on random street creatures so that he can get his fill of bloodlust. But one days things don't go according to plan: Octavio/Ramiro's dog Cofi wanders out and into the sight of Jarocho who tries to let his dog kill Cofi...it doesn't work out and Cofi breaks the dog's neck and returns home. Now with a potential prize fighter on their hands, Octavio decides that dog fighting might be the way to go.
The second story line involves a cheating husband and his mistress. Daniel (Álvaro Guerrero) has a wife and two daughters and it seems like the hyper-domesticated, normal life is quite boring to him because he slips into another cliche: the straying husband; but not with just any woman, with a supermodel named Valeria (Goya Toledo). After a period of time, Daniel leaves his wife and moves in with this woman...but we all know that an affair is different than living together, or at least, that's what Iñárritu is telling us. They begin to fracture apart and soon everything little thing because a huge deal until they wake up in the middle of the night having shouting fights. It's spectacularly melodramatic and never enjoyable to see.
The last storyline is the most ethereal of them all, the one that tries to make some vast point about humanity; but it doesn't seem to work on the level that it should. El Chivo (Emilio Echevarría) is a homeless man with a troubled past who occasionally works as an assassin. He totes around a posse of pooches and seems to have some higher knowledge; but he's also struggling with the realization that his wife has just died and his daughter has never known him.
So in essence, Tarantino wouldn't care about the things this movie does and the only resemblances are the story telling technique (which wasn't solely Tarantino's to begin with) and the occasional spurt of violence.
"Amores Perros" is at times, incredibly watchable, and others it remains tedious.
It's the kind of movie that tries to examine every possible niche of a society and tell us something about humanity: it fails on "ever present" spectrum and it also fails to deliver a meaning to it all. This would be fine if the stories didn't become so muddied over time.
Posted by Micah Jones