Amores Perros (2000)

Emilio Echevarría, Gael García Bernal, Goya Toledo, Álvaro Guerrero,
Amores perros is a movie starring Emilio Echevarría, Gael García Bernal, and Goya Toledo. A horrific car accident connects three stories, each involving characters dealing with loss, regret, and life's harsh realities, all in the...
  • 8.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Guillermo Arriaga, Writer:
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Director:
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8 / 10

A smartly modern elegy.

There is a character in 'Amores perros' who looks like Karl Marx. He is a tramp and an assassin, a good bourgeois who one day, Reggie Perrin-like, abandoned his family, and, un-Reggie Perrin-like, joined the Sandanistas in an effort to create a better world, earning 20 years in prison for his troubles. Walking the streets with a creaky cart and a gaggle of mangy dogs, he was found by the policeman who jailed him, who gave him a dingy place to live, food, and the odd, non-official contract.

El Chivo is the soul of the film, the missing link, both in appearance (a man called 'The Goat', who has rejected the civilities of society and lives a beast-like existence with his dogs, amongst the ruins of civilisation), and narrative function. With intricate structure, 'Amores perros' tells three stories, one of underclass Mexican life, where survival depends on what New Labour calls 'illegal economies' (dog-fighting, bank-robbing etc.), where bright young women are stifled and degraded by thoughtless pregnancies and brutal marriages, where single mothers depend (and usually can't depend) on shiftless sons for subsistence; and this world's mirror opposite, the world of the media, of celebrity, of models and magazine editors, of daytime TV, perfume advertising campaigns and bright apartments. Family life is central here too, although in this case it is torn apart by more pleasanntly bourgeois ailments like ennui and dissatisfaction.

These two stories are mediated by the narrative of El Chivo, the man who left one of these worlds for the other, but who still negotiates the two, through his search for the daughter he left as a toddler, and in his 'job', wiping out businessman. If Mexico is emerging as part of the super-confident globalism of high-capitalism, than El Chivo is the grizzly sore thumb, the ex-Sandinista, the Marx lookalike, the man who said no, the drop-out, the forgotten, the depleted spirit of the Left, happily killing and torturing the servants of the new economic regime.

There is something Biblical about his hirsute ascetism too, presuming to judge the 'Cain and Abel' half-brothers, one an adulterer, the other with a contract out on his sibling, another example of family gone badly wrong. This, the bleak funeral and grave scenes, and Octavia's functional crossing himself every time he passes an icon on the landing, are the sole residual elements of religion in a society once ostentatiously religious.

Except for the director. Like Paul Thomas Anderson in 'Magnolia', although to a less self-conscious degree, Gonzales Inarritu is the God of his film, intricately creating the structure that links his characters and their different environments. These are negative connections, however, which work against the idea of coherent meaning in life - contact usually results in destruction (physical, material, spiritual), or diminishing.

He is also an Old Testament god, punishing those who would get too confident with their future plans or their seemingly inviolable present success - the gains of capitalism are prey to the violent whims of chance: Gonzalez Inarritu doesn't need frogs to shake a rigid society or mindset.

Moral change is linked to physical change - being beaten up, losing a leg, cutting hair. The punning title, with its reference to the dog-eat/fight-dog nature of modern life, and its general unsatisfactoriness, also gives the film its Biblical feel, the idea of Mexico as an asphalt desert, or a rubbish heap, with all these scrawny mutts scavenging the remains.

'Amores perros' shares the sickly, bleached near-monochrome look of many recent crime films, like 'Chopper' or 'Bleeder'. But where the heightened mise-en-scene in those works were expressionistic projections of their protagonists' psychosis, here it's part of a controlling world-view, the universal consciousness that creates, connects and destroys.

The three stories, though connected narratively and symbolically, are mutually distinct - the first is an exhilirating mix of violent gangster film and frustrated romance; the second is like a short story (the screenwriter is a novelist), a figurative plot where movement is through image, symbol and idea, rather than film narrative; the third is a kind of spiritual journey, with an appropriately Biblical (or Wim Wenders-like) openness.

'Amores perros' is not quite as amazing as its admirers claim - it says more about contemporary cinema that a film only has to hold your interest for it to be a masterpiece - but it is consistently enthralling, and, despite all the stylistic tics and brutal violence, bracingly humanist.

9 / 10

Doggie Holocaust makes for Best Mexican Film Ever

Some people just won't want to sit through this film because of the overtly graphic and disturbing dog fighting scenes, which is ironic, because most people don't seem to mind the graphic violence involving the people in this film. Others simply won't watch it because of the subtitles. This is a shame, since this is by far the best film I have ever seen come out of Mexico (far better and more complex than the comparably immature "Y Tu Mama Tambien"). Here we get an intertwining tale involving dog fights, petty gangsters, a tragically injured model, a cheating husband, an abused teenage wife, and a homeless hit man. As you might expect the homeless hit man becomes the soul of the film, and the dogs serve as a link, reminding us of the violence we inflict upon each other and nature, and the fractured relationships we think beyond repair, but are actually more resilient than we could ever imagine. Brilliantly directed with a great soundtrack and a bigger heart than you might initially perceive, "Amores Perros" is a deep, thought-provoking and utterly enthralling film that you will not soon forget.

7 / 10

reality is weirder than fiction

Maybe for most of you, people outside third-world countries like Mexico or Colombia, my home, movies like ths one are only representations of another world... something away from you. My city, medellin, is one of the most dangerous cities on the world. Mexico city can be as dangerous as medellin. I`m not talking about politics. maybe you haven`t lived violence as near as i have, but im gonna tell you something, that is the main reason i voted 9 this movie: Amores perros is not fiction. Its a perfect peep to what life is here. We have expensive models that go to stupid tv shows, we have dog fighting, we have mercedes, we have old trucks, we have killers, businessmen, we feel love, we have houses... our life, as you can see in the movie, isn`t as different as you think. Amores perros can show you that life is not easy here. but that`s it. What you saw is thousand`s of people life. that`s why it`s so magic to you. Yourè seeing what you will never live there, in london, new york, seattle, paris, berlin... reality is weirder than fiction... see it on amores perros, and you`ll believe me... live it here, and no movie will surprise you

10 / 10

Must've beaten Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the Academy Awards

I think we're talking about one of the best Mexican films ever (i say so, knowing there's been excellent Luis Bu?uel films as well as Arturo Ripstein ones, like 'Principio y Fin' -Begining and End- that is this director's highest peak (based on the book by Naguib Mafusz)and Emilio 'El Indio' Fernandez ones that i don't personally like that much (even though he received the Golden Bear in the 'Berlinale').

Being surrounded by terrible Mexican movies, 'Amores Perros' was so refreshing and remarkably above every expectation that everybody could have about a first-time director (even though he was well-known for his wonderful work at advertising (changing the way ads were made in Mexico) and as a radio DJ in a WFM radio station that contributed to change radio in Mexico, too, along with Rock 101. Gonzalez I?arritu (in cooperation with his almost personal screenwriter, Guillermo Arriaga) creates such a complex yet flawless history based on three individual ones that converge not only in the dantesque (reference to Dante Alighieri's style, The Divine Comedy) car accident, but in their perception and description of how love can be harsh, as well as life itself, of how love can get to be a bitch, a struggle.

First Story ('Octavio y Susana') is about Octavio's (Garcia Bernal) obsession with his sister-in-law, Susana (Vanessa Bauche), but it's also about the violence, about an illusion, about betrayal, about loss. This is also reflected in the character of Octavio's dog, Cofi in a parallel relationship with his owner while he seeks his own destiny, having lost everything, he'll have to redefine his life. This parallelism also occurs in the second story('Daniel y Valeria'), an almost surreal one, where Ritchie being trapped underneath the condo's floor represents how it's owner Valeria (Goya Toledo) is trapped in a relation with Daniel that grows sicker as her injury (caused by the car accident) gets worse. The removal of the gigantic advertising of 'Enchant', the scent campaign that she used to be the image for, from the view of her balcony represents their decline: Daniel (Avaro Guerrero) left behind his marriage for this superficial mirage kind of dream, and she will have to make a whole redefinition of her life after losing everything. The dog-character parallelism with the main characters of this film can also be noticed in the third story ('El Chivo y Maru'), where 'El Chivo' (Emilio Echevaria), a former College teacher that left it all, family included, to become some guerrilla terrorist (is there a symbolism for Subcommander Marcos, from EZLN?), and now finds, by losing it all (all of his dogs being killed), but finding a new reason, new company just before a hit-man-type mission where he sets a confrontation between two brothers in such a biblical style the chance that none of the characters from the rest of the stories had: redemption. That's when he decides to retrieve some of the things he has lost, like Maru (Lourdes Echevarria -Emilio's actual daughter in real life), by at least apologizing to her, and redeeming himself finding a new life. It's clear that he'll stop being a homeless, because by the end of the movie he's got plenty of money. This story is one step ahead of the other two, cause after the loss they are all victims of, 'El Chivo' is the only one who gets that chance to start from scratch once again. Huge merit to Emilio Echevarria's performance for making believable the only character that was in risk of not being plausible of the film. Because of the relation within the characters, their dogs and their own love personal story, the title is, too a big success (both in Spanish and in English).

Of the episodic narrative structure of the movie (a few critics in the Cannes Film Festival compared it with Tarantino's Pulp Fiction), it can be said that besides making it more beautiful and complex, it's also necessary. One can't figure a way to resolve the situation other than this one. The thrill, the shock would never be the same. For example, if each one was a short film instead, it wouldn't work the same way as the whole movie.

In the film, Gonzalez I?arritu allows himself to appear a few times: in the editorial where Daniel works, for example, verifying a magazine cover; having some of the TV spots he made in the 90's when he was a publicist shown in the movie; and in the last scene, 'El Chivo' names the dog he rescued (formerly known as Cofi) as 'El Negro', I?arritu's nickname.

9 / 10

On Men And Dogs

This Mexican movie was surprisingly good. I confess the sin of prejudice concerning Mexican cinema, this being maybe the second Mexican film I have ever seen, but here my sins are punished. This is the work of a director of big talent. Hopefully, he will not be spoiled by the success.

Three different stories in today's Mexico mix with very few common elements. The characters belong to different social categories, and nothing connects them at first sight, excepting the feeling of un-happiness, and - yes - dogs. Dogs play an important role in all three stories. One more warning - there is a lot of cruelty including dog fights - this film is certainly not for sensitive animal lovers.

Directing is excellent, the stories are human and complex and despite their melodramatic or sometimes tragic outcome, they still leave you with a shade of hope - maybe because the humanity that the author uses to create his characters. There are so many memorable scenes, that I would commit another sin to pick any and describe it here - just rent, or go to watch this movie in the theater - it is worth all 150 or so minutes you will spend. 9/10 on my personal scale.