Reviews of Amores perros
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The best movie of 2000, Amores Perros, is a hip urban tragedy from Mexico with a dose of dark whimsy. How one walks away feeling afterwards will vary significantly from person to person.
It consists of at least three main interconnected stories and a few secondary ones. They are all sad, painting a depressing picture of modern Mexico City, but they are also hopeful. Images are raw, graphic, and full of animal (both literally and figuratively) brutality, but there is also charm in the film. Pulp Fiction is the model (especially when the film is being hip) but the tone of Amores Perros is of a different state of mind altogether. In some ways, Amores Perros is more disturbing than Pulp Fiction, if only because we can feel Alejandro González Iñárritu’s pain for his homeland.
Dogs are the interlocking motif of the film, and throughout Amores Perros humans consistently behave worse than their dogs. Like the dogs used for fighting in Mexico’s underworld, men can be ravenous, savage, and not above killing each other. But with proper training, we humans can be our own best friends and by the end of the film, each personal story ends with the taming of a beastly heart. Like beasts, the characters in Amores Perros cannot be judged.
One story involves Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal) who makes an illicit living entering his dog in fights. But he has an obvious love for his sister-in-law Susana (Vanessa Bauche) and gallantly defends her from her tyrannous husband, his brother Ramiro. A second story focuses on El Chivo (Emilio Echevarria), a former guerilla sniper who is now a hired killer. But he loves animals and adopts abandoned dogs to compensate for his estranged family.
Iñárritu doesn’t dwell on the sadness of their lives. Rather, he distances himself and watches them from the outside. He observes them instead of commenting on their behavior. This approach proves more rewarding as we are never told what to think of these people.
How does El Chivo feel when he sees his victim’s obituary in the paper? If his response seems callous, we soon see that he is not immune to grief. The next obituary touches him profoundly. It was someone he had a deep connection to. We learn later that this was his ex-wife, mother to his estranged daughter.
We get the feeling that El Chivo is selective about which jobs he accepts. If he agrees to kill only those he believes deserve to die, it could explain his apparent lack of remorse and make a case for a certain code of ethics in his method. Such guesses are the way of Amores Perros, a film with virtually no heroes or villains, but only real people.
Along with dogs, the three stories are interconnected by the theme of family disunions. Ramiro and Susana make a dysfunctional couple, and Ramiro and Octavio are brothers only by name. El Chivo’s daughter has forsaken her father and for good reason. Yes, they prove that people can be pretty barbaric to each other. Octavio has his own brother ruffed up by some goons, elsewhere, a young business man hires El Chivo to take out his own brother.
The “Big Game” of Amores Perros is a car crashing that forces these lives to rub elbows. Rather than a climax it is a turning point making the movie flow like a river in different directions.
In between the stories of Octavio and El Chivo is the story of Daniel (Alvaro Guerrero) and Valeria (Goya Toledo), and a story about an adulterous affair has never been as touching and wouldn’t work without Iñárritu’s refusal to pass judgment on their actions. They are who they are and do what they do for reasons only they understand. But we know soon that Valeria’s toy dog Richie is doomed when a game of catch becomes the focus. It is poor Richie that is punished for the behavior of Daniel and Valeria. After all, had Daniel not left his wife for Valeria, they never would have moved to their penthouse apartment with a hole in the floor…which is right where Richie falls through. But Daniel and Valeria are punished as well. Suffering a fractured leg after the fateful car crash, Valeria is dropped form her modeling contract and forced into a secluded life of boredom in the apartment while Daniel goes to work. Gradually, their relationship deteriorates. Instead of a child’s death, a dog lost in a bizarre way is the cause of their decline as a couple. But it also unlocks a bigger problem. Valeria is a needy woman while Daniel is a self-centered narcissist. He can’t be faithful to one woman and the movie makes it clear that Valeria will soon be discarded in the same way Daniel’s wife was discarded. But who can deny the tragedy of the moment when Valeria looks out from the apartment’s big windows as the billboard from he modeling days is pulled of a skyscraper, taking all traces of her former glory down with it?
Followers of telenovelas will recognize plenty of guideposts in Amores Perros but there is also a level of surrealism that harks back to Mexico’s rich folkloric history. The stories are told as if they were local legends, but their humanity is overwhelmingly real.
El Chivo doesn’t really like killing people, he does it to survive. More over, he hates who he has become. His daughter’s neglect has turned him into an unkept, shaggy, and dirty gun for hire. When he sees the life altering crash, however, helping the survivors takes precedent over finishing an assassination job.
Amores Perros is a movie about sad lonely lives, but Iñárritu doesn’t railroad us to see things that way. Except for El Chivo’s loneliness, he offers no excuse for the actions of these people. It’s the only right decision for a movie so true to life. Sometimes in the real world, there are no reasons for the things we wish had reasons.
Amores Perros is the greatest and most fulfilling movie of 2000 among the top ten of the decade. It is a masterpiece and more. It marks the discovery of Alejandro González Iñárritu, one of the few geniuses working in the movies today. And still there is more because Amores Perros is a rarity. It is one of the very few nearly perfect cinematic expressions.
lo que me gusta: la fotografía y el efecto de realidad que logra la primera historia, aun cuando se reduce a un cliché telenovelesco aderesado con detalles que a la tv no se le da la gana presentar. de cualquier modo el asunto de las peleas de perros supera la anécdota y se convierte en una poderosa imagen de lo que somos los mexicanos. la segunda historia es bastante floja en comparación e intenta una vía opuesta a la primera, del realismo brutal pasamos a un intento de fantasía con la historia del perro perdido debajo del piso falso del departamento. me recordó el cuento de arreola “la migala” y es un gran cuento en comparación, una notable manera de convertir a un animal en la expresión de todos los fantasmas que aparecen cuando sucede que dos seres humanos conviven como pareja bajo un mismo techo. por su parte, el asunto de la pierna… una modelo española que pierde su pierna… una familia burguesa en crisis perenne… y entre el realismo brutal y el intento de una práctica que se fuera por la fantasía, tenemos la historia del indigente millonario que en realidad fue guerrillero, que en realidad es matón a sueldo, que en realidad es un hijo de puta como cualquier otro criminal, que en realidad es un niño que extraña a su muñeca. si fuera “real”, es decir, una historia copiada de la realidad real, es inverosímil como muchas cosas que suceden en este rico país de miserias. su reducción más directa y fácil con el esquema de telenovela en el que un padre hace todo lo que hace porque quiere recuperar a sus hijos perdidos… ¿no es un tanto aburrido y trillado?
se debe reconocer el parteaguas que esta película representó, pero no sin advertir sus errores y excesos. después de ver 21 gramos perdí el interés en iñarritu & cía. es una pena que el tren se descarrilara al insistir en su patetismo, con historias de melodrama teñidas de un toque trágico. otra cosa odiable es cómo ciertas canciones convierten los fragmentos en que aparecen en una suerte de videoclip nada efectivo y fuera de toda lógica orgnánica con lo anterior y lo posterior. si la vida puede ser un melodrama que deviene tragedia, iñárritu decide banalizar todo con una cancioncita melosa. uno se pregunta al final dónde quedaron las contradicciones mexicanas que supuestamente inspiraron a iñárritu y arriaga como se dice en el texto sobre el director aquí arriba. ¿abrío esta cinta un nuevo camino, una pauta? es probable que la respuesta sea negativa. nadie parece haber seguido las posibles vías de algunos de sus aspectos o cualidades. una renovación que no parece calar muy profundo. para ponerlo en breve, no es roma, ciudad abierta y no existe un cine mexicano de dimensiones notables a nivel general. sólo golpes de ciego a una piñata elusiva pero enorme llama realidad (casi siempre lacerante)… el cine nacional nos sigue debiendo lo que por ejemplo, rulfo ha hecho por nosotros palabras mediante
- Currently 3.0/5 Stars.
A film strongly rooted in the telenovela tradition (whether intentional or not)- I enjoyed ticking off all the archetypes. And the Mexico City mileu was very well rendered. But Inarritu is a brutal filmmaker and the way he force feeds the interconnectivity of the three stories and telegraphs the self-reflecting of the characters became tiresome. It also probably helps to be an animal lover to be emotionally engaged with this film, which I’m not.
- Currently 2.0/5 Stars.
This movie was brilliant to me. I search high and low for stories like this in cinema all the time and very few leave me satisfied the way this one does. “Crash” was a huge success at least that I know of in the states and while watching this film I got the feeling that “Amores Perros” came first because it was done with more thorough detail, after looking up both release dates, I think I was right. Amores Perros also had me leery at first because of the dog fights. I did not want to support a film with that content, but once I seen the whole film and listened to the director’s commentary, I believe it was executed with compassion. I will recommend this film.
Love this movie, it really gets you emotionally on a level that few other films can. I think Babel is his best movie so far but this is a hell of a debut, a very emotionally deep movie. Yeah, it has violence but it would be fake to show the dog fighting scene and the people who are involved in it without showing the necessary baggage that comes with it. It’s not a pretty world but it is a true world and I am glad that the director had the balls to tackle this subject.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.