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Amores Perros

Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Emilio Echevarria
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Genre: Drama
Year: 2000
Rating: 4 / 5

Reviewed by Guest Scribe Legend

Fans of Pulp Fiction, Amores Perros is probably right up your alley. It is nonlinear storytelling of three different stories which intertwine due to one singular connection - a horrific car crash which involves the three main characters (Gael Garcia Bernal as Octavio, Goya Toledo as Valeria, and Emilio Echevarría as El Chivo). We see glimpses of various characters from the three plot threats intermingled through the movie which reinforces that these stories, though wildly different, are inexorably tangled together.

The first centers around young Octavio (Gael García Bernal, who puts in a convincing performance). He is a slacker in his young twenties, trying to make ends meet with his family… mother, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. He finds himself in love with his sister-in-law Susana (Vanessa Bauche), who is mistreated by her husband, Octavio's brother. Octavio finds an immediate easy income source once he starts entering his dog into dog fights. Taking a healthy portion of the winnings home, he tries to win Susana away from his brother with the money, as if fighting his dog was somehow indicative of a steady income stream and solid work ethic. The success of his dog is so great, however, that he enrages another dog's owner, and after a bit of a stabbing finds his way speeding down the streets of Mexico City to save his life when CRASH.

Segue to Valeria and Daniel. She is an enchanting and superficial supermodel with a soft spot for her chi-chi, fru-fru, pampered little pooch, 'Ritchie'. He is a successful businessman who leaves his wife and two daughters to be with Valeria. She's driving along with Ritchie in the car enjoying a pleasant day when CRASH, she's struck by (you guessed it) Octavio. She comes home wheelchair-bound and things turns even more sour once Ritchie falls through a hole in the hardwood floor and can't be coaxed out.

Lastly we see El Chivo, a homeless man who cares for dogs in some sort of abandoned room. (Notice how dogs are important in each of the three storylines). But he's not just a saintly long lost member of the Humane Society. He's a hit man. On his way to fulfill his latest contract, he witnesses Octavio and Valeria's car crash and makes off with his prize winning dog.

Things are of course much more detailed, but this is a skeletal idea of the gist of the movie. It is really quite cleverly done, but extraordinarily grisly. There's all sorts of violence, from stabbings, shootings, head butts, to car crashes - you name it. And something about watching dogs tear each other to pieces is highly disturbing. (There is a disclaimer that no animals were injured in the process.) El Chivo's squalor, Valeria's deterioration, Susana's abuse - all are very upsetting. And this just scratches the surface of the seedy underbelly of Mexican society coming through in this film. Also, a cautionary note about foul language: I have never heard so many expletives in one film before. If reading constant expletives in subtitles bothers you, then you should forego Amores Perros.

It is, nonetheless, a pretty interesting movie to watch, wrenching as it is. It shows the polar opposites of Mexican society. Successful businesspeople and celebrities on one side and the destitute and downtrodden on the other. When one stops to think, there are no middle class characters in the movie, reflective of the huge gap between rich and poor in Mexico. In Amores Perros, the gap collapses as all the characters' lives are thrown together into the same gruesome mix.

Cast:

Gael Garcia Bernal..........Octavio
Emilio Echevarria..........El Chivo
Goya Toledo..........Valeria
Alvaro Guerrero..........Daniel

Certification: Rated R for violence, language, and sexual situations.
Running Time: 153 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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