To leash his own
Men, women and dogs figure in three hard-hitting love stories that make up the Mexican import "Amores Perros."
By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
Octavio loves Susana. And he loves her baby too (he calls him Baldy).
"Come away with me," Octavio implores her, over and over. "You just don't get it, do you?"
|Directed by: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.|
Written by: Guillermo Arriaga.
Cast: Emilio Echevarria, Gael Garcia Bernal, Goya Toledo, Alvaro Guerrero, Vanessa Bauche, Jorge Salinas, Marco Perez, Rodrigo Murray, Humberto Busto, Gerardo Campbell, Rosa Maria Bianchi, Dunia Saldivar, Adriana Barraza, Jose Sefami, Lourdes Echevarria.
In Spanish with English subtitles.
Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
"You don't get it!" Susana snaps back.
The problem is she's married to Octavio's brother, the brutish grocery-store clerk cum sometime bank robber, Ramiro, with whom Octavio shares a grim barrio existence. Love's a bitch.
Daniel loves Valeria. "I love you," he whispers to the fragrance-touting supermodel on the phone as his wife lies in bed watching television, his two young daughters asleep in theirs. Soon
Daniel and Valeria will be together, but not until a tragic accident cruelly re-evaluates their lives. Love's a bitch.
El Chivo loves Maru. The former revolutionary turned hired assassin stalks the pretty young woman through the violent streets of Mexico City but he can never have her sympathies like before.
Their relationship cannot be what he wants it to be. Love's a bitch.
In "Amores Perros" ("Love's a Bitch"), director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's blistering debut, these three stories of love and dogs intertwine faithfully, fascinatingly, fronted by a disturbing
montage-laden reality similar to what Steven Soderbergh brought to "Traffic." The canine reference provides not only a catchy, Anglicized translation of the film's Spanish title but a strongly
centered link to man's best friend.|
In the first story, Ramiro's mastiff gets loose and kills the champion of a local dog-fighting hoodlum. Seeing this as a way to make some extra pesos, Octavio enters Cofi into the ring, and into
the whole bloody business. (Be forewarned: although the filmmakers are commendably restrained in their depiction of this illegal blood sport, the simulated scenes are still pretty hard to watch.)
In the second story, Valeria's pampered Ritchie disappears under the floorboards of the plush apartment Daniel has procured for his superficial lover and proceeds to torment the frustrated
Daniel, whose life is not turning out as planned.
In the third story, El Chivo (The Goat, on account of his flowing white beard) lives life as a hitman bum, pushing a shopping cart through these dust-colored streets escorted by his loyal pack of
mongrels, mutts, and strays.
Nominated at this year's Oscars for Best Foreign-Language Film, the brutal, beautiful "Amores Perros" commands the attention from its very first frame. Gonzalez Inarritu has taken an original story by Guillermo
Arriaga and fashioned it into a tale that is gritty, complex, and brimming with edgy performances (Gael Garc’a Bernal as Octavio is especially good as is El Chivo's Emilio Echevarria). Don't be
discouraged by the two-and-a-half-hour running time; the minutes simply whip by.
For all of its Tarrantino-esque violence smashes, crashes, shootings, and stabbings (and, of course, violence towards dogs; not that Tarrantino went there) "Amores Perros" emerges as a
crackerjack, fast-moving film with a surprising underlying humanity: these men do what they do for love and for no other reason.
You might question (and even balk at) their methods but, as unsettling as the film is, you cannot deny the purity of their motives.
|APRIL 17, 2001|
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