Love's a Bitch
Love. Betrayal. Death.
Gael García Bernal
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Running Time: 154 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18
Amores Perros was the film that catapulted Director Alejandro González Iñárritu and Actor Gael García Bernal into the consciousness of the worldwide movie going public. Since this hit in 2000 neither has quite managed to hit these heights again but this is a very high benchmark.
Amores Perros (translated as ‘love’s a bitch’) follows a set of interweaving characters in Mexico City, seeking out money and the wrong types of love. Octavio (Bernal) is earning money by entering his dog into brutal dog fights, whilst having an affair with Susanna (Baucho), his brother’s wife, who he plans to run away with. Then there is Daniel (Guerrero) who who’s left his wife in order to live with beautiful (and way out of his league) model, Valeria (Toledo). Finally, El Chivo is an ex-jailbird and Sandanista revolutionary who now spends his time as a hitman and stalking the daughter who believes he is dead. Each tale is linked by a violent car crash involving Octavio and Valeria that either ends one chapter of their lives or sends them spiralling off on another journey of depressing self discovery. It’s also a tale bout dogs as each interwoven story has a four-legged mascot. These are predominantly not cute and cuddly ones though and anyone who hasn’t got a stomach for animal violence should probably steer well clear. The film actually carries an ‘Animals were not harmed in the making of this film’ warning at the beginning, not the end of the film.
At first Amores Perros seems like a common or garden gangster movie set on the mean streets of Mexico, but it soon becomes apparent that this is much more than that. Iñárrit explores love, money and human mental and physical suffering at different levels of Mexico’s class structure in a very sophisticated and moving fashion and with an interestingly different context. The non-linear narrative is complex and quite like Pulp Fiction in that it bounces back and forth but always ends up back at the same place. Although, Iñárrit nearly justifies the 154 minute runtime as he sets the story very well and spends much time on characterisation, it does dawdle at times and could have been tightened it up a little.
It's Got: Interesting characters and context, sophisticated human drama, bad doggies.
It Needs: A slightly more urgent pace
DVD Extras A Director's commentary (unfortunately in Spanish so cannot run alongside the film's subtitles), 16 minutes of deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurette, trailer, 3 movie videos. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10
This hard-hitting drama following intersecting lives on the mean streets of Mexico boasts quality storytelling, an interesting context and Gael García Bernal’s breakthrough role. Well-worth it as a foray into Latin American film-making. Not suitable for vegetarians.