View Date: March 5th, 2002


Emilio Echevarría El Chivo
Gael García Bernal Octavio
Goya Toledo Valeria
Álvaro Guerrero Daniel
Vanessa Bauche Susana
Jorge Salinas Luis
Marco Pérez Ramiro
Rodrigo Murray Gustavo
Humberto Busto Jorge
Gerardo Campbell Mauricio

Directed by:
Alejandro González Iñárritu 

Written by
Guillermo Arriaga 

Related Viewings:

Go (1999)
Magnolia (1999)
Sliding Doors (1998)
Lola rennt (1998)
Pulp Fiction (1994)

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Amores Perros (Love's a Bitch)

There is no denying the influence that the media can have, both on itself, and on the general populace.  News programs, reality television and game shows have proven that the public thirsts for entertainment, but what about the influences that the media has within itself.  I feel it can be measured both in short term, and long term ways.  In the short term, there are copycats, seeking to capitalize on a supposed unfound, fertile or open market, these will usually burn out, and fade from our memory quickly.  Recent examples include the boy band craze, the hair band phase and most of the 80s.  But the long term ones are the lasting and memorable ones, the results of which may not be seen or appreciated until long after the initial influence is done.  When Pulp Fiction was released in 1996, no one could deny that it was unlike anything anyone had ever seen or done before.  Coming soon after that were the copycat films, Suicide Kings, Go and several other forgettable ones attempted to capitalize.  I always felt that Fiction established, or at worst, perfected a new genre in cinema, that of the non-linear filmmaking.  Since then, many have tried, and few have succeeded without looking like cheap imitations at best.  I believe it becomes the difference in trying to copy, and learning from, if not paying homage to, the predecessor Amores Perros, Mexico entry into the 2001 Foreign Film category of the Academy Awards, is a perfect example of the latter.  This anti-love story, told in three separate, strangely, but believably intersecting ways, works because each story is loosely linked, as life is, to other aspects, yet is independently interesting on its, when the camera just happens to follow a different perspective of things.  There is never a moment where we doubt the plausibility of anything we see, and in some way, despite spanning differing classes of people, it is a film that is one most can relate to in some way another.

The story is told in three focused episodes, with hints at the others during each one.  In the first, we have Octavio and Susanna.   She is married to Octavio’s brother Ramiro, who is less than faithful, and doesn’t treat her well.  Octavio is in love (or at least lust) with Susanna, and through some other circumstances, offers to take her away with the money he has earned through underground dogfights.  Octavio, Ramiro and Susanna all live with the brothers’ mother in a modest apartment, and do not seem to be hurting for money, but also are not well off.  In the second episode, we have Daniel and Valeria, he is a married, talk show host producer, and she is a famous model.  Daniel leaves his family and marriage behind, to be with Valeria, whom he sets up in a nice apartment.  But circumstances intervene once again, to turn things asunder and test the bounds of love (the underlying mood in each of these stories).  Finally, El Chivo and Maru, he is a homeless man, with a past; she is the daughter who believes he is long dead after he disappeared.  He watches her, trying to work up the nerve to “look her in the eyes”, while performing odd jobs to maintain his living.  I have left a lot of the details of this story out, because there are several interacting occurrences, which give this movie its wonderful appeal.  It focuses more on love than Fiction did, but also shows that life’s journey, and love’s destiny, can sometimes be as intermingled as the people whose lives cross.  The common link between all of the stories is not only the presence and importance of the dogs, but also the one event that forever ties these people together, whether they realize it or not.  Unlike Pulp Fiction this films spawns societal classes, and shows the differences and similarities in both emotions and outcomes. Like Pulp Fiction, there are common people who pass through each others lives, and the film chooses to follow the occurrences from different perspectives, showing the vast effects that one event can have on several lives.  But they are not isolated storylines either, as people pass freely, and realistically through each others lives, giving what at first seem like glimpses, but later are more reflective if the proximity that our lives have with one another.  The commonality that bonds them together, is not drugs, or guns, or crime, but dogs.  A simple yet representative symbol of loyalty, used to bond the classes together in ways that each may never recognize. 

Ultimately, Amores Perros is an intense social commentary, and tribute to this style of film making which should be viewed by all groups of people.  Our lives unfold, interact, and become reactions of those whom we encounter.  Films like Sliding Doors, Amelie and Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run) have shown how important the minutia in one’s life, and the decisions made can be.  Perros takes that one step further to show that the have’s and have-not’s are not as far apart as may be believed.  There is a saying that “they all put their pants on one leg at a time”, I’ve always added the addendum that “but their pants cost a lot more”.  This film not only shows that humanity is a bond that will always transcend any amount of status, but that human emotion is something that cannot be bought.  Money may make the world go around, but it cannot buy happiness, love, contentment, or peace.  These have to come from inside us, and the movie reflects that in a powerful, sometimes painful way. ($$$$ out of $$$$$)

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